Mormon Collapse

There are many people who feel that the collapse of Mormonism is approaching as the dawn of the information age has hit us.  The feeling is that the church can no longer control the image of Joseph Smith, Mormon polygamy or of Mormon origins.  Since information on the internet cannot be controlled, the church will lose it’s grasp of it members as they become disillusioned and disaffected with the whole story. For an example of this, you can see this You Tube video in which two Mormon missionaries are introduced to more than they knew about Joseph Smith polygamy.

While there is plenty of evidence that there are many Mormons leaving the church based on this scenario (and perhaps worse, many more not becoming Mormons because of it), I do not think this will be the cause of a collapse of Mormonism.  Instead I see a different scenario.

There is an aspect of Mormon culture that views the organization of the church in an idealic light. There’s a prevalent cultural view that the President of the Church is having regular encounters with Jesus and that every decision made inside the Church Office Building comes with a direct confirmation from the Holy Ghost. I am of course using a bit of hyperbole in this description and I’m sure if you pressed any Mormon on the street about it they would concede that this is not quite how things operate.  But at the very least we could agree that a large number of Mormons are wearing some very rose-colored glasses as they view the decisions made by the church’s full time employees. This attitude coupled with an intense financial scandal could really destroy Mormonism as we know it.

Imagine a scenario where Door-Knobbers, a Mormon owned company, installs interior door knobs in newly constructed facilities (I choose this example because I don’t think any such company actually exist).  The company is quite successful and the owner of the company as part of his tithing settlement gives the church a large number of his own shares in the company.  Those inside the LDS church that manage the shares are quite pleased as Door-Knobbers continues to become more and more profitable and the shares increase in value.  The LDS church decides as part of its investment strategy to invest heavily into Door-Knobbers stock.

What the share managers don’t know is that the vast majority of Door-Knobbers business comes from an exclusive contract it has with the LDS church to install door knobs in newly built ward houses.  Part of the reason Door-Knobbers is so profitable is that they are vastly overcharging the LDS church for their services. Also unknown to the LDS church is that Door-Knobbers won the contract by bribing someone in the LDS church to ensure that they would win the contract despite their bid being nearly double the next highest competitor.

Eventually some one discovers the graft, but is told to hush up about it or be disciplined (the Church can’t afford this kind of scandal being the rationale).  The whistle-blower decides to go public and indeed is disciplined for it because as it turns out, the church really can’t afford this kind of scandal.

The corruption, of course, would be a major set back for any religious institution or non-profit(see Exhibit A: The Catholic Church).  But it would be worse for the LDS church  because of the pristine view the members hold of their organization (I’d say the same about Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science and Scientology).  This view would forever be shattered.  This breakdown in the honesty of the organization would cause many to conclude that the church is not what they thought it was. Whether the LDS church is promoting this view is really not the point, it’s a condition of the LDS culture that the church must live up to.

I’m spoken up many times that I think every good non-profit organization should have open financial records.  I think it’s a serious liability that the LDS church is not open and that the membership doesn’t seem to mind.  That being said; I don’t know that financial accountability would prevent this scenario from happening.  I have no idea who my church purchases contracts from and whether or not they are competitive.  I doubt that level of detail would be exposed through financial accountability.  But it could be that financial accountability would create a culture within the Church Office Building that would head this kind of thing off at the pass.

The other solution is for the leadership of the LDS church to start gently reminding the membership that their priesthood leaders are sinners too.  This doesn’t have to be done in a way that thwarts their authority but just sets appropriate expectations for their own imperfections.  At this point it seems like a herculean feat to get any Mormon to admit that someone in their church has ever done anything in the name of the church in a less than perfect manner. It’s okay to be seeking God’s direction and to be doing your best while you don’t hear a “thus sayeth the Lord” from God in every decision.  To hear some Mormons explain it, there is not a single beuacratic decision that isn’t being directed by God.  This just isn’t a healthy attitude for anyone.

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233 thoughts on “Mormon Collapse

  1. Like with some of the financial scandals of the early church, I don’t think that your hypothetical (or anything like it) would seriously damage the church.

    I think that most of the people walking around with rose colored glasses on are doing so because they believe that they have been told by God that this is His organization. And if something bad was to happen, it would be a matter of simply saying that people aren’t perfect, it was just that one guy (those few guys, whatever).

    I think that most members of the church (outside of Utah, because I know that Utah culture is different, and I’m not sure how or in what way) wouldn’t care and would continue, because, really, for all of its problems, it is a good group to be in. It’s nice to be a part of a group, to have that support system, etc.

    I would have liked some more financial transparency (and, because I heard that auditing the church financials was a priesthood job, I used to be ticked that I could never do it), but when I was a member, I was totally unconcerned with the money situation. I think Seth said it before–I gave the money to the church, not to police how they spent it, or to have a voting right in how they spent it, but because I was giving 10% of my income to God’s church. And I believed that if God really really was concerned with how it was being spent, He could totally come down and smite some people and stuff (which would be way cool to hear about in General Conference).

  2. I’m not sure most Latter-day Saints think of the church quite like you suggest. Nor do I think you example would really have much of the effect.

  3. When I first began studying the church as a teenager, I asked my friend Neil if he believed Gordon B. Hinckley still sins. He stated that the thought of Gordon B. Hinckley still sinning was nearly impossible for him to imagine.

    Neil was 18. I was 16. We both said a lot of stupid stuff. But do some people think the prophets are functionally perfect? Yeah, they do, and they get shaken up when they’re confronted with evidence that it just isn’t so.

    I question how much the wider spread of “the truth” about Joseph Smith’s marriages and other disturbing events and discarded doctrines in church history is going to deter converts. Like an antibiotic against a bacteria, it may slow things down for a while, but a newer, harder strain of bacteria will emerge that’s resistant to the antibiotic. A newer strain of Mormon converts could emerge who know all the problems in church history and believe in the church just the same.

    And then where would evangelicals be? We might actually have to start preaching the good stuff in our religion instead of talking about Joseph Smith’s sex life to pull people out of Mormonism!

    And look at that, I just compared Mormon converts to bacteria. Sorry guys. I really must be in the mood to be a jerk today. The “God-had-sex-with-Mary” guy at my blog got me fired up.

  4. The Kirtland Scandal did nearly finish the church off. Where are the 3 witnesses to the BOM as a result?

  5. I agree with Jack that the missiological approach of informing Mormons about difficult issues in LDS Church history in an attempt to undermine its faith claims will not significantly slow down the LDS Church’s growth and expansion. Based on my experiences, I believe that basic information and faithful LDS scholarly interpretations on such issues are making significant inroads in the general LDS community. I am continually meeting more and more LDS members who have discovered and dealt with many of these issues. Moreover, faithful LDS scholarly and apologetic arguments are more accessible now than ever. And most Mormons (in America at least) have connections with persons who can help them understand and interpret these issues from a faithful LDS perspective.

    I suppose I simply find it stunning that Evangelicals point to such difficulties in LDS history in an effort to undermine Mormon faith claims. For me, believing in “the Bible” was a much more difficult task than anything I found in Mormon history. A God that commands the slaughter of countless men, women, and children? The history surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre sounds pretty tame in comparison if you ask me. Or how about the fact that much of the Israelite traditions surrounding the experience(s) of the Exodus and the conquest and settlement of the land of Canaan is not historical. A lack of archeological confirmation for horses (or whatever else) in the Book of Mormon doesn’t sound very different than the kinds of criticisms that biblical scholars and archeologists have been leveling against the Bible for the last 50 years. I could go on.

    The point is that I simply find it shocking when Evangelicals use critical methods to destroy the faith claims of the LDS Church, but fail to use those same critical methods in analyzing the Bible and their own faith claims and theological traditions. I think it is high time such a missiological approach in interacting with Mormons and Mormon history be rejected.

    TYD

  6. I think the idea of a “Mormon collapse” as the result as the result of something like the stated scenario is wishful thinking. A few reactions, not in any particular order:

    1. As I’ve stated here before, I agree that more financial transparency in the church would be a good thing.

    2. Kind of along the line of what Katyjane said, I don’t think that most people join a church (not just LDS) or continue in it because of theology, financial accountability, historical issues or, for that matter, much of anything rational. They’re involved in a church because they find it fulfills some needs. If the church continues to do that, most people will stay.

    3. I agree that LDS members may have an overly rosy view of the church’s higher leadership. But I don’t think that’s any less true of members of many evangelical churches, which almost invariably become what they are under the direction a charismatic (not in a theological sense) male. And what happens when evangelical leaders falter? Yes, the church is set back, and some people leave. But almost invariably, the church goes on. New Life Church, although it struggled when its pastor was caught in a sexual scandal, remains a strong church. Even Jimmy Swaggart still has a significant following.

    4. I have a friend who was involved in the inner workings of a stake where the stake president was arrested in charges that he traveled out of state to have sex with a teenage girl (actually an undercover FBI agent) he met on the Internet. That ex-stake president is now in federal prison, and, while the incident was (according to what my friend tells me) very hard for many people, by and large they have continued to remain active in the church. When LDS members say their faith is in Jesus Christ and not in the church’s human leadership, that’s generally true.

    5. If the Church were to “collapse,” it would more likely be because of a sharp division among the Twelve involving some major issue than it would be over a scandal or something like that, a division so sharp that it leads to a “coup attempt” or something similar. While I find such an occurrence theoretically possible, I just don’t see it happening. I can foresee (but am not predicting) events, possibly related to changes in society, that might make the LDS church less than what it is today, but that’s far different than a collapse.

  7. Eric, “I agree that more financial transparency in the church would be a good thing.” Why? What would be revealed that would be useful? As we already saw from Tim’s previous post, even his church’s financial statement has so little detail that it could hardly be considered “transparent.”

    I have my own thoughts about what financial details I’d like the LDS Church to disclose, but I’ll hold off for now….

    And I don’t mean to pick on only that one thing you said, because everything else you wrote I agree with.

  8. Tim, “The Kirtland Scandal did nearly finish the church off.” I dunno. This table shows that the growth rate took a slump following the KSS failure—though it doesn’t show exactly what percentage of members left the Church; based on rates from proximate years, it could be as much as 30% of the Church (though I am highly suspicious of the assumptions I had to make to get that number). On the other hand, the Utah War (ca. 1857) had a comparable impact on church membership numbers.

  9. BrianJ — My concerns about financial transparency have less to do with what is useful that would be revealed than with the temptations that secrecy brings with it.

  10. Eric wrote:

    3. And what happens when evangelical leaders falter? Yes, the church is set back, and some people leave. But almost invariably, the church goes on. New Life Church, although it struggled when its pastor was caught in a sexual scandal, remains a strong church. Even Jimmy Swaggart still has a significant following.

    First of all, well said about things not being all that different in the ev. circles, and I would underline for EXACTLY the same reasons: OUR leader could never do x, y, and z….no way…..couldn’t happen… when leaders believe this lie themselves, they set themselves up, and of course find it VERY difficult to even admit to others that they are being tempted, let alone actually sin. This is all so avoidable: come down off whatever drug you are on and ask yourself plainly: how different are these guys/girls than Joe/Jill Normal on pew 14 ?? Answer, not that different.

    Let’s help our leaders come down off the pedestals before they hurt themselves and others.

    As to what happens to these churches, it depends: they are all damaged, some more than others, and the flock is damaged, some more than others. Some congregations are totally rubble, some re-org, some find a better leader and rebound well. I don’t know how Swaggert is doing exactly, but I’m very sure he paid a very big price, not just for sinning, but not repenting in a fashion that helped his name, or the LORD’s. Contrast with Gordon MacDonald, by the way, if you want a better picture of how that is done.

    I’ve heard too many LDS say on this blog and others that they don’t care what the church does with the money to believe that a great indescretion would result in what Tim predicts. This seems whacky to me, but that’s because I’d never personally sit still for leaders that act that way.

    PS to Jack: what you’ve said about inoculation is well under way: what a few find disturbing, most have made some kind of “agreement” with; and the rationales for some of JS behavior may sound weird to me, but it makes perfect sense to others. Different paradigm, I guess.

  11. At this point it seems like a herculean feat to get any Mormon to admit that someone in their church has ever done anything in the name of the church in a less than perfect manner.

    But why do you want Mormons to admit or confess that there are flaws with their church or leaders? I think this is absolutely the wrong approach. In addition, I think you have to realize that anyone is going to resist speaking about imperfections of their faith with critics. They simply do not trust you. That is simply the nature of relating with critics. Latter-day Saints, in my view, do not appreciate attempts by outsiders to get Mormons to complain about their faith or their church or anything like that.

    If you are critic of the LDS Church, members of that church will most likely relate to you as a critic. Such a relation naturally will not enjoy a great degree of trust and as a result the communication is more likely to remain superficial.

    I remember having a conversation about church administration challenges with an Evangelical friend of mine. He discussed the problems that he had experienced with a Church board that wanted to get rid of their pastor. My friend related to me that he felt this was wrong. I didn’t throw this back in his face as some sort of “evidence” that his Church structure or administration was flawed or false. Rather, I sympathized with the problems that churches face. Churches are made up of people, and as long as people are people, churches will be comprised of imperfect people. However, the idea is that we are creating Church communities, the body of Christ, to become one in Christ, and I rejoice in those who make efforts to create Church unity and solidarity.

    I think Evangelicals should not confuse an attempt to destroy the Mormon Church with Evangelism or Missiology. In my opinion, such attempts are neither. There is no attempt to preach the Good News or to share the Good News with Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints are pre-disposed to seek out “anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy,” and yet Evangelicals focusing on Mormonism continue to provide almost nothing of the sort. Rather the goals are: Let’s attack the institutional church, let’s hold them accountable, let’s get Mormons to complain about their church, let’s get Mormons to confess their leaders are imperfect, etc. Who responds to this? This is the negative gospel. Where is the preaching of the Good News? Why people insist on this method, or believe somehow this method works, I have a very difficult time understanding.

  12. So by being critical of critics and their methods, are you being any more persuasive?

    I think you actually are. You highlighted a problem rather critically but effectively. People can learn from the perceptions and critiques of outsiders. I think you think they can as well, otherwise you would have nothing to offer a critic like me other than silence.

    Just to clarify any notions that this scenario is wishful thinking on my part or something I hope will someday happen: it is not. I don’t think religious scandals help the Gospel of Christ to advance. I think the best way for Mormons to enter into orthodoxy is through the reform of the LDS church rather than its destruction.

    I posted this scenario as fodder for thought and discussion. Nothing more.

    By pressuring the LDS church to follow the wisdom of financial accountability I hope it benefits as all people and groups do from being wise.

  13. Hugh Nibley was actually intensely critical of both LDS culture and LDS leadership. Read his “Leaders vs. Managers” essay sometime and realize that he was actually directing it at high-level LDS leadership.

    Ouch.

    But he won a lot of latitude with the Mormon hierarchy for his work in defending the Pearl of Great Price from critics. So he got a free pass, in a sense. I even heard the late apostle Niel A. Maxwell almost affectionately refer to him as “the Church’s gadfly.”

  14. I also think that the distance of history has allowed modern Mormons to trivialize the early apostasies in LDS history. I’ve heard one early apostle who apostatized mentioned repeatedly in LDS lessons as having apostatized because he was offended in a dispute about his wife “skimming cream” and keeping it for herself instead of contributing it to the common cause.

    Well, no… actually… a big part of the reason he left was when he saw the Danites (seemingly with tacit approval from Joseph Smith) threatening to kill dissidents.

    The Kirtland Safety Society came up in a recent lesson this year. The way I explained it to the rest of the elders quorum was:

    “Imagine Thomas S. Monson asked you all to mortgage out your houses and donate the money to a large church-wide investment fund that he and a board of directors were heading up. Then imagine that he invested it all in highly risky investment options and then proceeded to mishandle the management of the funds. In the end, the entire scheme collapses, the members lose everything, and Pres. Monson finds himself nearly thrown in prison under an SEC investigation…

    That’s essentially what happened in Kirtland. People lost everything, and a lot of them never forgave Joseph for it.”

  15. For interested parties, the hour long biopic of Hugh Nibley wherein Neal A. Maxwell makes the quote to which Seth R. refers is available on Youtube. Quality is a little bad, but the man’s story is fascinating.

  16. Seth R., it kind of irks me when I hear the Thomas B. Marsh milk strippings story, too. Especially when there are so many other good examples of people apostasizing over trivial things, like Simons Ryder (sp?) quitting the church because Joseph Smith misspelled his name on a mission call.

  17. I can understand quitting over having one’s name misspelled. It happens to me frequently, and I hate it.

  18. Eric (and Tim): my point is that there is still a huge amount of secrecy in the financial statement put out by Tim’s church (just using his as an example). How much does each pastor make? dunno. How much did we spend on roofing repair? not stated. What did the other bids look like? not mentioned. What is the relationship between the roofer and the pastor? not known.

    In other words, I don’t see Tim’s church’s financial statement protecting them from the hypothetical in the original post. The increased “transparency” is like going from denim to khaki. So I ask, “What do you want to see in a financial statement?”

  19. BrianJ — Tim would (obviously) know this better than I do, but I would assume that in the case of Tim’s church, plenty more information would be available for the asking. And based on from what I’ve seen on the Protestant churches I was once involved in, I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be possible to find out how much the pastor is being paid. Like I said earlier, in two churches I was involved in, the pastor’s salary was directly voted upon by the congregation. I think that was a healthy approach to take (and far different than the situation in some well-publicized cases where pastors are living extravagant lifestyles).

    In the case of the LDS church, I haven’t thought about the specifics that much, only the principle, and I haven’t even thought about the principle all that much, just that I’m basically in favor of openness in many areas of life. Openness seems to foster trust and remove some possibilities for temptation.

    I’m not on a crusade here or anything, and I have no reason to believe that any significant amount of money is being spent improperly. (It’s obvious that the biggest share of funds is going toward facilities and education, and I’m not aware of any cases where even the church’s critics are credibly accusing it of providing extravagant pay for church leaders.) It’s just that if it were my decision (and I’m glad it’s not), I would lean toward more transparency rather than less. That’s all.

  20. As Eric stated, more information is available for the asking at my church.

    As I stated I don’t know that financial accountability would necessarily stop this scenario from taking place BUT it would set up a culture of accountability that would remove the temptation. Katy can speak to this much more than I can, but having outside groups provide the audits would also go a long way in preventing corruption. Add that to open financial books and you’d be on your way to healthy clean books.

    Financial accountability is universally understood to be THE best practice. I don’t need to justify why it should be done, those discussions have been thoroughly hashed out at business schools around the world. It’s the LDS church that needs to offer an explanation for why they should be exempt from openness (not to me, but to its donors).

    That raises an interesting question. Did anyone attend business school at BYU? Was financial accountability discussed?

  21. Of course, Tim, the fact that there are HUGE financial fiascos all the time in Evangelical churches and the lack of current financial fiascos in the LDS church doesn’t make the LDS church look any better, or does it?

  22. (I’d like to see some transparency in psychochemiker’s broad generalizations.)

    Eric, and I’m not on a crusade to defeat you in your musings here. I just wondered how much thought you had given it, if you had specific ideas in mind, etc. I have my own reasons for wanting more transparency from my church, but they are quite different from yours. Thanks for answering my questions.

  23. “Imagine Thomas S. Monson asked you all to mortgage out your houses and donate the money to a large church-wide investment fund that he and a board of directors were heading up. Then imagine that he invested it all in highly risky investment options and then proceeded to mishandle the management of the funds. In the end, the entire scheme collapses, the members lose everything, and Pres. Monson finds himself nearly thrown in prison under an SEC investigation…

    That’s essentially what happened in Kirtland. People lost everything, and a lot of them never forgave Joseph for it.”

    Wow. I’ve never really studied the KSS, just what I’v heard through the grapevine. I’ll have to do some more reading on it, but if what you describe is accurate, Seth, it’s amazing to me that the church pressed on after this. I know that I would have a very difficult time sticking around if something like that happened to me.

    I expect God will continue to bless tithe payers regardless of what the church does with the funds, but I agree with Eric that financial transparency eliminates a lot of temptation–and for that reason I think the church could use more of it.

  24. Of course, Tim, the fact that there are HUGE financial fiascos all the time in Evangelical churches and the lack of current financial fiascos in the LDS church doesn’t make the LDS church look any better, or does it?

    My educated guess is that the evangelical churches that have had the financial disasters have been those without openness. There are indeed some evangelical pastors getting very rich off their churches, and there certainly have been scandals. I’d bet that they’re the ones that have relatives on the ruling boards and that sort of thing and are not following practices such as those promulgated by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. But that’s not typical of evangelicalism.

    The ECFA standards are actually quite good. If I were an evangelical, I wouldn’t donate to any evangelical organization (except possibly my local church) unless it were a member in good standing.

    (What a crazy blog this is. Here I am defending evangelicals while Jack is defending Mormons …)

  25. My educated guess is that the evangelical churches that have had the financial disasters have been those without openness.

    you’ve gotten a VERY good education, friend…yes, this is how I’ve seen it played out repeatedly; and the relatives on the payroll (not that this is always a bad thing) is quite common, even with 20-somethings pulling down six figures for “expert help and counsel”…. and lodging…etc. the amazing thing , to me, is how much people will sit still for and say, “well, they just have the blessing of GOD on them…” GOD’s blessing and that kind of secrecy just do NOT mix….

  26. What a crazy blog this is. Here I am defending evangelicals while Jack is defending Mormons …

    I know. What the hell is wrong with us?

    I think we need to do a topic that Mormons and evangelicals actually like to fight each other on. There’s too much getting along on this blog.

  27. Problem is, we’re all burned-out on the “grace vs. works” controversy. If you take that away, what’s left to fight about really?

    I mean, creation ex nihilo… but most people don’t get half as emotional about that as they do about grace.

  28. I mean, creation ex nihilo… but most people don’t get half as emotional about that as they do about grace.

    Yeah, and my knowledge of creation ex nihilo pro/con scholarship is middling. TYD and Blake Ostler would simply descend and stomp all over me.

    I thought about doing a post on the old “Song of Solomon = porn” theme in Mormonism, but I figured that with me and Katie here it would quickly turn into one of those fMh TMI threads.

  29. I thought about doing a post on the old “Song of Solomon = porn” theme in Mormonism, but I figured that with me and Katie here it would quickly turn into one of those fMh TMI threads.

    Dear Jack,

    That is a brilliant idea for a thread. And I don’t know what you’re talking about. I am always extremely well-behaved.

    Love,
    Katie

  30. Seth and Jack,

    What’s funny is that, in my opinion, creatio ex nihilo vs. creatio ex materia is the biggest dividing philosophical/theological difference that I am aware of.

    TYD

  31. I am not really sure about what the auditing situation of the LDS Church books are.

    However, it is entirely possible that they have an auditing team that functions as a completely separate arm to get the checks and balances. For example, let’s say that there are Elders A, B, and C. Elder A has the authority to authorize spending. Elder B has the authority to initiate money transfers. And Elder C balances the checkbook (thus creating a segregation of duties that is super important to make sure that if people stealing money, they have to be working together to do it instead of doing it on their own. And we (and by ‘we’, I would like to mean the accounting community in general, but I think that ‘we’ here is just ‘me’) would like to think that during these moments of collusion, they are playing heist-type music in the background to create suspense for themselves).

    Then, let’s say you have Elder X. Elder X is in charge of auditing the books. Now, if Elder X reports to any of Elders A, B, or C, that’s a problem. But if Elder X (and his team of happy auditors, of course) reports to someone in charge of all of them (say, Pres. Monson), then if there was fraud, and Elder X found it, and had the duty to report it to Pres. Monson, and did, then Pres. Monson could go and shake his fist at Elders A, B, and/or C and make them stop.

    So, all that to say that if there is a strong set of internal controls and the internal auditors are doing a good job, then things probably aren’t so shaky. External auditors are always nice, especially if I am one of them, but for a private organization not necessary.

    I do think it’s interesting that since the LDS Church, as far as I know, doesn’t finance their spending through loans, they won’t ever have to show their financials to an outside source (i.e. the bank). No judgment on that, but interesting.

  32. Interesting points, Katy. And I have to agree, if there are Elders colluding to steal money from the church, I should certainly hope they are playing heist-type music in the background. Else where is the fun? Besides the millions of dollars of free tithing dollars, of course.

    And I, for one, would love to read a real smack-down post.

    Finally, I have a very important question. Katyjane and Kullervo, do you have just one computer and have to take turns, or do you have your own individual computers? Because I hate taking turns.

  33. We have more computers than we have people who can be reasonably using them at one time. Katyjane is sitting right now at a desk with two computers on it. Ask her how many coffee machines she has.

  34. lol!

    Between the two of us, we right now (as in right at this minute) have three computers hooked up to the internet.

    I have my PC, he has his iMac, and I have a work laptop.

    Also, when we do share my PC, (hehehe MY PC), I use Firefox and he uses IE so we don’t have to log out of anything.

    This also makes for handy spying on each other’s emails. Which we, of course, never ever ever do. At least, not without spy music.

  35. Katie, taking turns isn’t on your list, is it? #51…

    Kullervo–no fair pulling out the coffee machines thing. I LIKE coffee machines. And most of them are different KINDS of coffee machines that are good for different situations! How many Bibles do you have? 😛

  36. katyjane: very interesting. And just for the record, when I steal money I always listen to Total Eclipse of the Heart. I know: weird. But that’s the way my family’s been embezzling for generations.

    It’s worth quoting from the Church Audit Committee:

    The Church Audit Committee consists of three members who are independent of all Church officers, employees, departments, and Church-affiliated organizations. We report directly to the First Presidency and have access to all records and personnel necessary to perform our responsibilities. During all our activities, we listen to The Doors really loud.

    The Church also has an auditing department that is independent of all other Church operations and departments. The Church Auditing Department is separate and independent from the Church Audit Committee. The Church Auditing Department’s staff consists of certified public accountants and other professionally qualified auditors. The department audits the various financial statements of the Church in accordance with recognized professional auditing standards. It also monitors contributions and expenditures of local ecclesiastical units. While the Church Auditing Department has nothing against The Doors, it favors listening to Bjork backwards.

    That sounds like it would comply with your “rules,” so long as the First Presidency doesn’t ever issue checks. Of course, the books—or office doors—aren’t open for us to see that any of this is really taking place, so I don’t see this appeasing critics.

  37. Honest to goodness I think the most plausible scenario is the LDS church alligning itself more and more with main stream christianity… and perhaps dropping it’s more controversial teachings and doctrines over time. For example the teaching of “eternal progression” and becoming a “god” may over time be dropped…. we have seen that with other doctrines, I don’t see why it wouldn’t happen again.

    Also, I think the LDS church is going to have to focus more on Jesus to keep it’s membership happy. I have seen this in the last few years, a push to show the Bible in more positive light and more focus on Jesus. I believe this could be due to the fact that many have said that the LDS are not a christian religion.

    What I see happening is over time, the LDS becoming more main stream and dropping it’s controversial teachings that seperate it from christianity.

    Their growth rates have been declining in comparison to prior years and yes I do believe that some of that may be due to the fact that investigators can do their homework now on the web. When they elders leave they can type in their questions and get the real scoop on LDS doctrines. I cound’t do that when I joined up.

    Regards,
    gloria

  38. There is no such trend gloria.

    The only reason it looks that way is because Mormons have gotten aggressive about defining themselves ON THEIR OWN TERMS rather than letting Ed Decker do it for them.

  39. Gloria said: “Their growth rates have been declining in comparison to prior years and yes I do believe that some of that may be due to the fact that investigators can do their homework now on the web”

    1. There is a conscious effort by the church to baptize less and retain more.

    2. Most of the convert baptisms are coming from places where computers are not prevalent.

  40. Seth,

    Hasn’t the LDS baptism rate gone down the past few years compared to lets say 10 yrs ago? Do you have any studies to show that the growth rate has actually increased in the last few years compared to 10 yrs ago per say?

    Isn’t the focus now more on retention as jared pointed out?

    I agree with jared, most of the converts are coming from areas where internet is not as easily accesible.
    Kind regards,
    gloria

  41. I wasn’t talking about baptisms gloria.

    I was talking about your assertion that the LDS are dropping distinctive doctrines in favor of blending in.

    This is silly.

    You’ve read the first missionary discussion, right?

    Just stick to that information and you’ll have a religion that is LIGHT YEARS different than any other Christian religion on the block.

    And that’s the first stuff we hit you with in the FIRST DISCUSSION.

    Your assertion that LDS are “mainstreaming” in doctrine is just not credible.

  42. I agree, as long as Mormons believe in a pre-existence, the other doctrinal differences are pretty trivial. Mormons have a much different (arguably richer) description of the purpose of human life. That won’t change and will always maintain some appeal opposite the traditional view.

  43. Seth,

    Don’t you think the LDS church has dropped certain doctrines over the years that have been rather controversial….. I am thinking of the teaching on the blacks and also plural marriage.

    With the whole idea/concept of continuing revelation, then it is possible for the LDS leaders to be “inspired” to change things down the road. I remember reading some of McConkie stating that if the LDS ever ordained black men the church would be apostate, — he later recinded this comment and said he was wrong.

    I think it’s very possible for the LDS to continue to change.

    As far as the first discussion seth, yeah I remember it. Focus on Joseph Smith and the first vision as I recall. You are right, the LDS faith is light years away from Biblical christianity.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  44. gloria, if you want to cherry-pick two particular examples out of dozens and call that a “trend,” be my guest.

    But don’t expect it to be particularly convincing to me.

    As it so happens, the ban on blacks holding the priesthood never was a doctrine to begin with. Brigham Young never promulgated it by revelation. It was a policy decision he announced at a meeting of the Territorial Legislature. After that, it became a local policy. But it was never a “doctrine” any more than our modern three-hour meeting block is a “doctrine.”

    Policy. Not doctrine. Big difference.

    Now, all sorts of PRIVATE speculations were then thrown out by various LDS authorities – usually borrowing from their racist American Protestant neighbors (we actually borrowed Mark of Cain and Curse of Ham from Southern Baptists who were attempting to justify slavery, and then segregation). All rather misguided in my mind.

    But no doctrine was repudiated here, because there was never a doctrine to repudiate.

    As for polygamy…

    THAT doctrine (and yes, that is a doctrine), was never repudiated.

    It’s still in full force. Expect to see it in the Celestial Kingdom.

    The end.

  45. If the teaching on blacks and the priesthood wasn’t a doctrine, then why was its repudiation canonized as scripture, ie Official Declaration 2?

    I didn’t think changes in non-doctrinal policy and practice required canonization.

  46. BMJ — According to a biography of David O. McKay, he felt that the practice was a policy but needed a revelation to change. He went as far as he could go (such as purposely looking the other way when it came to South Americans whose ancestral heritage was unknown) without changing the policy. McKay appears to have been open to such a revelation, but for reasons unknown it never came during his presidency. He did, however, lay the groundwork for it.

    I don’t see any logical reason why a revelation couldn’t overturn a policy.

  47. Further adding to Eric’s wonderful historical synopsis, BJM, President McKay once related how he continued to pray for a revelation to change it and distinctly feeling an answer of “Do not ask again.”

    We could turn the tables and talk about a God who doesn’t change, change his viewpoint on what food was acceptable to eat. I’ve heard many evangelicals express the viewpoint on that, “Even though the food restrictions [for Israelites] was found in the Bible, it couldn’t have been doctrine because God doesn’t change doctrine.” Therefore, the food restrictions were merely a policy. Yet Peter required a revelation in order to stop obeying this policy, and it “unclean” things. Now I recognize this isn’t a perfect analogy, but it may help you understand a little bit about how we may view it.

    Further, Jack. Have you changed your mind or were you being funny?

    We already settled that debate. They’re not.

  48. Seth,

    I disagree with you.

    The ban on the blacks receiving temple ordinances a policy rather than an actual doctrine…… this topic could go on and on and on……. you can read what I think about this on on mark’s blog. But I strongly disagree with you and I feel your arguement does not hold up weight.

    The truth is the LDS official teaching on the Blacks was that they were not allowed to enter the temple or receive the LDS saving ordinances.

    That to me speaks volumes seth.

    Thank God I know different and that God is truly no respector and keeps no one out of His kingdom based on color of skin.

    I praise God for that!

    gloria

  49. Lest anyone be confused by false statements about Mormonism, the saving ordinances of baptism and confirmation have always been available to anyone regardless race in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    For a time, the exalting ordinances of endowment and sealing were withheld. The interpretation of that as a policy or a doctrine depends on one’s pre-existing prejudices. Obviously, one would expect faithful Mormons to view it as a policy, while one would expect bitter anti-Mormons or apostates to view it like a doctrine. Of course, faithful Mormons can pull quotes where church leaders call it a policy, while anti-Mormons use their own authority as priesthood of all believers to call it a doctrine. Of course, Mormons don’t accept the anti-Mormon priesthood of all believer to define Mormon doctrine.

    But it is an utter-lie to say that people of african heritage were denied the saving ordinances when they were allowed to be baptized, and to much smaller numbers, were baptized. Since only baptism and confirmation is required for entrance into the kingdom of God by LDS theology, black people were not withheld from the kingdom of God even under the priesthood ban. Implying otherwise is dishonest, and anyone who was a true Mormon should have known the difference.

  50. My impression is that the growth rate of the church is indeed slowing in the United States. But that doesn’t have anything to do with people finding out “the truth” about the Church on the Internet from the evangelical anti-Mormon types.

    The evangelicals are having a hard time getting converts too.

    The reason has to do with changes in our society. It wasn’t all that long ago (in my lifetime, actually) that the kind of lifestyle promoted by Mormons and evangelicals — a traditional, happy family with children that goes to church on Sundays and all that stuff — was seen as an ideal of sorts even by people who didn’t believe in or practice it. That’s no longer the case; many types of lifestyles are seen as being ideal, and the traditional-family idea is becoming almost quaint. We as a society are becoming much more secular, and in coming years it may be as hard to find Mormon or evangelical converts in the U.S. as it is in Europe today.

    Seth said to Gloria:

    I was talking about your assertion that the LDS are dropping distinctive doctrines in favor of blending in. This is silly.

    I agree with Seth and with what Jared also said. There are indeed changes of emphases over time, and they way we do things can change (and sometimes does, even if too slowly for some of us). But I just can’t imagine a scenario where we’d say, for example, that there was no pre-existence, or that Jesus and the Father are one in essence. It just isn’t going to happen (nor should it).

  51. I wonder why LDS call people ‘anti-mormon’? Shall I call LDS anti-christian? Good grief. Let’s drop the lables folks. If you could only see how this does not help the arguement and actually appears foolish. I for one am not going to go around calling mormons anti-anything. I have always found name calling to be oh so inmature.

    Just my 02,

    gloria

  52. PC,

    Everyone here knows that the LDS doctrines teach that temple endowment, sealing and “enduring to the end” of one’s mormon life is essential for exaltation. Baptism is not enough for a faithful Mormon to receive. Is that not true?

    Your statement about the blacks having saving ordianances is only a half truth. Yes, they were allowed to be baptized, but it is fact that the LDS teach that without temple sealing a marriage for example does not last forever, or a family. And without the priesthood and sealing ordianances a person can not enter the celestial kingdom and walk “back” ( I say back due to the LDS belief of pre-existence) to the presense of God.

    Saving ordinances means more than just baptism for the LDS — a whole lot more.

    The blacks were kept out of the temples and not allowed those ordinances based on their skin color and not on personal worthiness.

    Thank God , that this is not true. That God does not keep souls out of His kingdom based on skin color.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  53. Gloria — I distinguish between non-Mormons and anti-Mormons. When someone makes a living out of bashing Mormonism, I don’t think that “anti-Mormon” is an unfair label. I don’t call all evangelicals anti-Mormon. I wouldn’t, for example, call Tim anti-Mormon even though his “ministry” (I guess that’s what he would call it) is focused on taking issue with Mormon thinking. But when someone, say the Ed Deckers of the world, go around spreading falsehoods about LDS Christianity, yes, that’s being anti-Mormon.

  54. Even during the height of the Priesthood ban, many authorities were pretty-much of the opinion that blacks would receive the exalting ordinances after mortality.

    Either way, yeah, it was a policy. Entrenched enough that it required a revelation to overturn.

    By the way gloria, if you’re going to gripe about racist Mormon “doctrines,” do I get to gripe about Paul the misogynist? Or St. Peter, the xenophobic racist? Or even Jesus, who felt that apparently the Samaritans weren’t worth teaching salvation?

    How about any other number of ugly quotes I could dig up from leaders in your own faith tradition?

    “The Mark of Cain” and the “Curse of Ham” are every bit as much your own doctrines as they are mine.

    Just because you shopped around for a pastor you liked doesn’t mean you don’t have to own the filth in your own religion.

    I swear, I keep running into Evangelicals who act like they aren’t accountable for anything just because they found a perfect relationship with Jesus.

    It’s this selfish rejection of community that still gives me hangups about Evangelicalism. Some Evangelicals act like history didn’t even exist until the day they were born. Just me, my Bible and my Jesus. And if other Christians are out there acting like hateful bigots, well… that’s not me, is it?

    Heavens no! I’ve got a personal relationship with Jesus!

    That means I don’t have to take any responsibility for my religion. I don’t have to worry about the garbage Calvin occasionally spouted-off.

    I get this with Aaron S. almost every time we meet too. The way he talks, you’d think God had created a new world religion ex nihilo the moment he accepted Jesus as his personal savior.

    Sorry gloria. “The Curse of Ham” is just as much your doctrine as it is mine.

    Now, own it.

  55. Gloria, while it IS true that receiving the endowment, sealing and enduring to the end is essential for exaltation, it is also true that baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost is all that is required to enter the Celestial Kingdom and be saved. It will help you to remember, that while saving all mankind was an eternal work of an infinite God (e.i., no small undertaking), LDS do not believe that that is all that God has planned for us. Therefore it is true that a faithful Mormon will go on to receive their endowments and their sealings, but that doesn’t mean that aren’t saved if they don’t receive them. And they way you describe it IS spreading a falsehood about LDS Christianity.

    My statement was fully honest, and is in no-way a half truth. I ask for some evidence. You claimed LDS didn’t believe black people were saved before the 1978 revelation. I refuted it. As evidence you state that they weren’t allowed to be sealed, but sealing isn’t required for salvation. You insist it is, ergo you are spreading a falsehood about LDS Christianity.

    2 Nephi 31:17 states

    Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

    . Baptism, not endowment, is the gate to the Celestial kingdom.

    I disagree that “people without priesthood and sealing ordinances cannot enter the celestial kingdom or enter the presence of God.” True, they wouldn’t inherit eternal life, but that != (does not equal) being saved in the celestial kingdom of God.

    Saving ordinances means more than just baptism for the LDS — a whole lot more.

    Untrue. The full statement is saving and exalting ordinances. And while it is true that the exalting ordinances of the temple were withheld from people of african heritage and not on their personal worthiness, it is untrue to interpret that to mean Mormons kept black people out of God’s kingdom based on their skin color, because the saving ordinances were NOT withheld, while the exalting ordinances were.

    Thank God , that this is not true. That God does not keep souls out of His kingdom based on skin color.

    I agree that God does not keep people out of His kingdom based on their skin color, and the LDS church never has. I am so grateful that people of all ethnicities are NOW completely equal in all of the blessings they can receive in the LDS church. I believe we are now much better in accord with our own scripture.

    2 Nephi 26:33
    33 For …the Lord… inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

  56. Further, Gloria.
    I have already dropped all of my “lables”, but I’m keeping some of my labels.

    The moment you stop calling LDS men; non-Christian, racist, sexist bigots is the moment I’ll stop calling you an ‘anti-Mormon’.

    I have always found name calling to be oh so inmature.

    Then why do you do it so much? Seriously, foolish? Pot, meet kettle.

  57. PC ~ Where do you get off labeling the priesthood of all believers “anti-Mormon”? It was expounded on by Martin Luther in 1520 long before Mormons were ever around and there’s nothing “anti-Mormon” about it.

    And yes, I was kidding about Mormons not being Christians. Don’t make me change my mind.

    @ the topic ~ My question was an honest question. I’m not sure I see much of a practical difference between a doctrine and a mere policy that is so widely entrenched that it requires a canonized revelation to overturn.

    For the record, I agree that a history of racism is evangelical Christianity’s problem almost as much as it is Mormonism’s. See this comment on it that I made at Mark Cares’ blog a while ago.

    I’m not sure that I buy that there was never a “doctrinal” change on polygamy. Prior to 1890, every single Mormon leader who spoke about it taught that “celestial marriage” was required for exaltation—and “celestial marriage” was always defined as polygamous eternal marriage. You had to have more than one woman sealed to you to be exalted. Where do you think those loathed Mormon fundamentalists get it from?

    So for the church to redefine “celestial marriage” post-1890 to include monogamous eternal marriages and say that one woman is good enough for exaltation, sure seems like a change in doctrine to me. If requirements for exaltation aren’t doctrine, I don’t know what is.

  58. Dear Jack.
    I don’t. You misunderstood. I apologize for the misunderstanding. That comment was not trying to imply that all those who believe in Priesthood of all believers (POAB) are anti-Mormon. Thank you for clarifying that. Sometimes I don’t get your humor. I almost peed my pants watching “total eclipse of the heart” but had to ask about that comment.

    Some Evangelicals on these various sites have cited their priesthood of all believer-authority to judge Mormons as damned. I was merely pointing out, that even if POAB exists, and they have it, that doesn’t authorize them to preach or expound mormon doctrine. If my words were confusing, I apologize. I hope I’ve been able to state it somewhat clearer in this instance.

  59. “Thank God I know different and that God is truly no respector and keeps no one out of His kingdom based on color of skin.”

    Really?

    But from and Evangelical perspective it seems that God is pretty prejudicial.

    He kept the entire world out of the loop for centuries except for one small obscure nation.

    And He didn’t do South and East Asians any favors from the Evangelical perspective, the vast majority of them die and wake up in burning in a lake of eternal fire because they were unlucky enough to be born outside of Christendom.

    Most of His children are simply SOL, and it divides pretty clearly along ethnic lines.

    I always find it strange when Evangelicals criticize the priesthood ban. Within the Evangelical pespective, God is the ULTIMATE respecter of persons. If salvation is by faith in Jesus alone in this life, then God doesn’t give a damn about all of those nations that weren’t lucky enough to be conquered and forcibly converted by European nations.

    Leaving a group out of church leadership for a while seems ridiculously mild in comparison to this sort of neglect.

  60. PC,

    I am going to take the high road and not go down that road with you. God calls me to forgive and so I will forgive you PC . If you wish to drag up things from other blogs and other conversations and topics then go right ahead. If that makes your day and you enjoy that, you are free to do so.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  61. ” leaving a group out of church leadership for a while seems ridiculously mild in comparison to this sort of neglect”

    With all due respect, Jared. I disagree.

    The LDS kept the blacks out of the temple, not just church leadership. It wasn’t just about the blacks not being able to have the priesthood, but basically keeping the blacks out of the presense of God. Because the LDS doctrines teach that without temple ordinances a person can not walk back into the presense of God. So how could a black person do that without those ordinances?

    So I disagree and say it’s much more complex then just keeping them out of Mormon church leadership.

    None the less, it really doesn’t matter, because I know that God loves the black people and has never kept back His love for them or eternal life from them. Hey, we might all be wonderfully shocked, and find out Jesus is black!! Now wouldn’t that be something?!

    I am not an Evangelical so I can’t state what the Evangelical perspective is on things. But I can say as a Christian and from what the Bible teaches, God has never excluded people from His kingdom based on color.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  62. PC,

    I never said that black people, from the LDS perspective were not “saved” . Let me clarify it, and if you go back and read what I said , I stated that black people without sealing ordinances of the temple can not go back to the presense of God. According to LDS doctrine, who can a person enter the hightest level of the celestial kingdom without their endowment and temple sealing?

    That is what I was about blacks.

    I understand that black people have always been allowed to be baptized mormons.

    I understand that the LDS teach there is a difference between “salvation” vs. exaltation and godhood.

    I know the LDS believe blacks can be saved, but that is a different matter than being exaltated.

    Without the LDS temple ordinances, a person according to LDS doctrine would not be able to be in the presense of God the Father. Is that not true? That is why so much emphasis is placed on work for the dead.

    For years, the LDS church did not allow the black people to have what was considered necessary to enter the presense of God and obtain exaltation. That is what I am saying.

    Kind regards and thanks for taking time to read,
    gloria

  63. Seth,

    No where does the Bible state that the curse placed on the sons of Ham — was skin color or “black skin”.

    If people who call themselves christians taught that lie, and I am sure some have, then I call them on that, Seth. It’s wrong, plain and simple wrong.

    Hey, I am not saying that in any way have christian churches been racist. I wrote a lot about this over at mark’s blog. I agree with you, many churches have been racist and that is so wrong seth.

    But with that said, I don’t go to those churches. I am not in a church at this time that has a history of such blatant racism and professing teaches that are not biblical. ‘

    I have told you before, seth I am not an evangelical.

    I am disciple of Christ, a sinner redeemed by His amazing grace.

    I am not a baptist, or an Evangelical.

    I hold no creeds but Christ, and my authority is the Bible.

    I will say that the Bible does not teach any such thing about the curse of Ham’s children being the color of black skin. That is flat out lie and christians who have taught that should be ashamed of themselves.

    I know the S. Baptists have formally apologized for their views of the past. It’s awful what they taught. Awful.

    But let me make myself clear – don’t lump please with those churches. I do not profess any denomination but Christ alone.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to share my views,
    gloria

  64. Seth,

    On the curse of ham…. I went back and re-read what the bible says:

    ‘”Cursed bye Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his bretheren”

    The curse placed upon Canaan was that they would literally be relegated to abject slavery.

    Never does it state that it denotes skin color of blackness.

    I is wrong for any Christian to teach differently.

    Cain, was cursed — his curse was to be a fugitive and a vagabond and basically he wouldn’t be able to farm anything. ( Gen. 4:12) God did place a mark on Cain, so that none would kill him. Gen. 4:15 No where does it state in the Bible that this denotes color of skin.

    I do not belong to a faith tradition that teaches such lies, now or in the past.

    Baptists and other Churches should be ashamed of such blatant twisting of God’s word to propagate racism. As I mentioned before , some churches have made public expressions of sorrow and shame. Has your church done the same?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  65. ” Bible teaches, God has never excluded people from His kingdom based on color. ”

    No, just based on their religion in this life. Therefore from the Protestant perspective (I am assuming you are a protestant) He essentially condemns most of his children to a burning lake of fire without a fair chance.

  66. Hi, jared.

    I would not call myself a protestant. I don’t attend a protestant church. I would call myself a born again believer or disciple of Jesus Christ. My church is non denomanational and definately not protestant. We try to stick as closely as we can to the New Testament Church found in Acts.

    The Bible teaches that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that *no* man should perish but have everlasting life. God’s heart is that all should come to know Jesus and accept Him as Lord and King.

    The Bible also does teach as you mentioned of the lake of fire and brimstone. Yes, that is the final resting place of those who don’t have their names written in the Book of the Lamb. Rev. 4:18

    I beleive it’s is God’s will that all should be saved, Jared.

    I think it’s safe to say that some will reject Christ.

    The lake of fire is a sobering thought to consider.

    Thus my heart’s burden I share is the same as God’s…… to not see one soul lost.

    I appreciate you taking time to read what I have to say.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  67. Gloria,
    You did say that Mormons denied black people the “Saving ordinances”. Because the saving ordinances are baptism and the holy Ghost, your comment was either contradictory or you effectively claimed “Mormons don’t think black people got saved.”

    “I stated that black people without sealing ordinances of the temple can not go back to the presense of God.”

    And this is incorrect, and I’ve corrected this twice now. LDS doctrine doesn’t state that only the exalted enter the presence of the father again, but rather that all who enter the celestial kingdom enter the presence of the Father again. I hope you would admit, that LDS doctrine teaches that those who’ve entered into a sincere relationship via baptism will enter into the Celestial kingdom, because this is both what the LDS church and its scritpures teach.

    “According to LDS doctrine, who can a person enter the hightest level of the celestial kingdom without their endowment and temple sealing?” Gloria, this is a non-sequiter. Because exaltation != salvation, denying someone ordinances for exaltation != denying salvation. It’s a fairly linear relationship, so any statement about denying temple blessings as evidence of denying salvation or “saving ordinances” is just BAD logic.

    “Without the LDS temple ordinances, a person according to LDS doctrine would not be able to be in the presense of God the Father. Is that not true?”
    No it is not true. Without baptism and the gift of the holy Ghost, half of the LDS temple ordinances, by the LDS understanding of Christ’s commandments, they could not be saved. Therefore Jesus provided a way by proxy baptism. Further, so that God is completley fair, the opportunity to accept the exalting ordinances is also granted. God’s fairness requires the work for the dead.

    “For years, the LDS church did not allow the black people to have what was considered necessary to enter the presense of God and obtain exaltation.”
    But this is not LDS doctrine, and that’s what I’ve been correcting for the last several comments.

  68. PM–actually, I think that you’re incorrect here. My understanding of Mormon doctrine is that in order to obtain the highest level of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom, one must get their endowments and be married in the temple. This is stressed with such high importance that even if a person’s family is not LDS, they are encouraged to marry in the temple instead of waiting a year to get sealed even if it means incredible hardship and stress on the family.

    Celestial marriage–being sealed in the temple–and thus the priesthood, is necessary to obtain Celestial glory.

    So, regardless of what the BoM says, later latter-day prophecy must have overruled it.

    I do still think that Mormon doctrine regarding salvation (in general, not including the blacks being excluded from the priesthood obviously) is a much better idea than the apparent Evangelical stance. As a kid, I always thought that Jesus must be a really mean guy if he was sending me to hell (according to my evangelical peers) even though I didn’t really even know who he was. It was one of the things I found most appealing about Mormon doctrine–work for the dead.

  69. gloria,

    That’s exactly what I was talking about – the utter social and theological irresponsibility that often seems to accompany the “me, my Bible, and my Jesus” attitude that seems so common in Evangelical circles.

    Seriously, half the Protestants I encounter online act like they created a new world religion the moment they accepted Jesus as personal savior. Makes it easy for them to evade responsibility for their history or their community.

    Not buying it gloria. Maybe you aren’t “Evangelical,” but trying to tell me that you aren’t Protestant is just ludicrous.

    You’re a Protestant. You’re so obviously Protestant it hurts.

    Maybe you don’t like being held accountable for other people and for a religious community.

    Tough.

    Taking responsibility for your religious community and history is part of being a part of the body of Christ. It’s part of being an adult. Other Evangelicals here get this.

    I’m sorry you still don’t. But yeah – I do lump you in with your fellow Protestants, and I will continue to do so.

    Because it’s the truth. You are one. Like it or not.

  70. Seth, I agree with you, too. When we fail to own up to the mistakes of our forefathers–fail to admit that “our people” screwed up–we’re far more likely to repeat those mistakes.

    (Incidentally, it’s one reason why I wish our faith tradition would be far more explicit in owning up to mistakes we’ve made in the past.)

  71. Seth,
    So should I call you a Fundamentalist Mormon because you still believe in plural marriage, and believe your church still practices it and teaches it? ( via temple sealings, theologically speaking, and in it’s scriptures)

    No, I don’t think it’s fair to call you a Fundamentalist Mormon Seth.

    Just as I don’t wish to be called a protestant or evangelical. I believe the bible is clear about what followers of Christ were called : Christians.

    I hear you though on what you are saying about taking responsibility for prior mess ups and down right lies taught as doctrines.
    I pointed out earlier seth, it’s wrong that christian churches taught that the mark of cain = black skin. I makes me upset to consider what was taught about black people by so called “christians”. It’s wrong.

    I have never said differently and refuse to apologize for those people or the lies they generated regarding skin color. It was wrong seth. I agree it’s also wrong to not admit that this actually did happen. But, I will say this, some of those churches have made public apologies for their beliefs and have stated they were wrong. I ask again, has the LDS church made public declarations that leaders like Young and others were wrong in their beliefs and teachings about black skin?

    I have always stated and will again, that christians are just as guilty of racism.

    I also state that I do not attend a protestant church or an evangelical congregration. I have stated this many times and will again, it’s non denominational, we have no creeds but Christ and we seek to lift up the name of Jesus.

    I for one choose to show forth respect and continue to call you LDS and not a fundamentalist mormon.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  72. Katie,

    I agree whole heartedly. If people screw up then it’s good to say “we were wrong” or we “made a mistake”. It takes a big person to own up to being wrong.

    I think some Christian churches have done such with regards to their racist history. I don’t see that happening with the LDS church and their prior teachings about “why” people have black skin. I think an apology would be great.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  73. Well-

    I disagree slightly with Seth,

    I think its a much more complex question regarding whether you have to account for the problems in the traditions you subscribe to or are born into. If you wanted to reject all notions of previous traditions and start your own Jesus cult, its hard to see why you would have to account for the inquisition. I don’t think Mormons have to account for the inquisition, but they shouldn’t be inquisitorial.

    However, its clear that Gloria is definitely Protestant, if only by her obvious adherence to sola scriptura.

    I think the better way of looking at it is that labels and traditions are easy ways of determining what kind of knuckleheads we are, but just because we disavow labels doesn’t mean we aren’t knuckleheads. . . it is just not as obvious what brand.

  74. Seth,

    Are *you* willing to take responsibility for your religious community and it’s beliefs? Are you willing to take responsibility for what B.Young , McConkie and others said about the reason why some are black?

    Should you have to apologize for them?

    I don’t think so , seth. Those are the words of Young and others and not yours, that is unless you agree with what they stated about why some have black skin.

    I know many LDS people who are ashamed of the teachings that were taught about “why” black people have black skin. It’s kind of embarrassing for them to think about what men like B.Young believed and yes even spoke from the pulpit.

    With that said, I don’t knock them down, seth. I know that in their heart they don’t agree with that and don’t believe that.

    Should I knock you down and make you own up to what B.Young said about black people?

    I think that is the job of the leaders of the LDS church to make a public statement. The Church itself should make a public statement.

    Why should I be blamed because some bigoted white preacher in the south had an awful attitude towards black people?

    I am going to extend grace to you , seth. Why can’t you do the same back?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  75. I think Mormons should “own up” to what Brigham Young said about black people, if only to say that he was wrong.

    This is essentially what Bruce McConkie said here:

    ” Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.

    http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11017

  76. Jared,

    That is a good question. Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thoughts.

    First of all, my actual church I attend is small in numbers as you stated, but I belong to the larger body of Christ. Hope that makes sense, as I know the LDS don’t really use the “body of Christ” in their religious terminology.

    Secondly you asked about whether I would call Mormons christians. I have thought long and hard about that one, Jared. Part of me says, yes and part of me says “no”.

    The YES part of me says they are sincere , and truly believe in Jesus and God. I really do think most LDS are sincerely trying to worship God to the best of their abilities.

    With that said, I honestly believe that they hold many beliefs about “who” God and Jesus are that are not biblical. I think you would agree? Many of the unique LDS beliefs about who God and Jesus stem from the teachings of Joseph Smith and not the Bible.

    That is where I have a hard time.

    I see the sincerity of many LDS ,and yet I see the unbiblical beliefs about the very nature of God.

    As you know, many Christians do not believe the LDS are christian. I hesitate to make that blanket statement because #1 I don’t know their hearts and #2 God does.

    I believe that the LDS official doctrines on “who” the person of God is are false and definatley unbiblical, just as you would say that my beliefs about God being a spirit ,as it says in Bible is wrong.

    I also think there are many LDS who apart from their LDS doctrinal beliefs, may disagree with what their church teaches regarding the nature of God. I have met a few , and I have a good friend who is one of them.

    I hope I make sense.

    I can’t claim to know what is in the hearts of the LDS readers here. Only God knows that. I can’t claim to be anything more than sinner saved by God’s amazing grace.
    I can claim to have been a mormon for 19 years of my life and am know beginning to understand who God really is.

    That is what I can claim.

    Thanks for taking time to read,
    gloria

    ps. I apologize for my spelling errors at times. PC, I admit I am not the best speller and I apologize for not spelling “labels” correctly. 🙂 Hopefully you can forgive and not make it an issue later down the road. 🙂

  77. You all are free to call me protestant if you wish. It is your right to call me whatever you wish, but I personally would prefer to be called a Christian. Just as many mormons prefer to be called LDS. ( my husband being one of them) I respect his wishes, and do just that.

    Really I know what God calls me.. and that is what truly counts, eh? He calls me F R I E N D. John 15:15

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  78. I’m really not so sure I’m interested in seeing different faith groups “own up to” and apologize for the mistakes of their past. While that’s generally a good practice to have, I’d much rather worry about seeing these groups not making said mistakes anymore.

    For example, if Mormons, Catholics, Greek Orthodox and complementarian Protestants all decided one day, “From now on we’re going to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood/clergy,” I would be ecstatic. They wouldn’t have to mail me a pristine, penitent apology stating that their past policies were discriminatory and wrong; it’d be more than enough for me that the change was made. If they want to apologize for past wrongs, I wouldn’t even call that icing on the cake. That’s mere sprinkles on the icing on the cake.

    Yeah, it sucks that Mormons have an ugly history where blacks are concerned. But at least they got their act together and changed their racist policies. That’s a lot more important to me than seeing them apologize and give account for past wrongs.

    BTW, here’s something along these lines that Craig Blomberg said in The New Mormon Challenge:

    … I disagree with Francis Beckwith that changes in Mormonism must “go through” Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; that is, they must account for how those two church leaders said things that are seemingly contradicted by subsequent developments in LDS circles. This was not the approach taken by Vatican II (or numerous other Catholic councils over the centuries) with respect to prior papal pronouncements. A church that believes in ongoing revelation or authoritative church tradition by definition looks to the most current form of that revelation or tradition to define its beliefs. It could actually prove counterproductive to try to stress to Catholics or Mormons (or anyone else!) that current beliefs seem to contradict former ones, if one approves of the current beliefs. Those groups might then be tempted to revert back to the older, less desirable beliefs! (p. 326-327)

  79. Jack, I see your point–and I agree that far more important than apologizing for past wrongs is correcting current practice–but I think the LDS church is in a unique position here. Because of the prophetic status high leaders hold, many members still look to past statements for insight, doctrine, and understanding.

    As a result, even after the 1978 revelation, you still see people trying to explain, sustain, and defend it. How can you expect to fully eradicate racism from the church when you haven’t refuted the foundation from which it sprung? How can there be true equality when those teachings are still hanging around in the background, influencing the discussion?

    I think especially in the case of blacks and the priesthood, if it’s really true it was the result of a racist culture and a mistake (as many of us are now claiming), then the leadership owes it to the people who were wrongfully oppressed for so long to say, “You know, even prophets can make mistakes; that was wrong; please forgive us; and to the rest of the church, disregard those false teachings.”

    (And Jared, I don’t think BRM’s “forget what I said” [though a good start] is the same as an out-and-out refutation.)

    I would also add that Blomberg’s point is a good one, especially when you’re talking about outsiders trying to “correct” another faith tradition (and ignoring their own mistakes in the process)–but internally, we should have the moral courage to own our crap so that we can fully purge it from our system.

  80. KatyJane, I’m not certain, but I’ve assumed that both you and Kullervo are ExMo, right?

    KatyJane and Gloria,
    I’m going to have to pull the “I know more about Mormonism than you do card, being a TBM, Temple Recommend carrying Mormon, verses the ex-mormons” on this, but I’ll also try and include some evidence.
    You are correct in saying “in order to obtain the highest level of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom” one must faithfully receive their endowments and sealings. And it is highly stressed. However, being exalted in the Celestial Kingdom is not the same as being saved in the Celestial Kingdom. And being saved in the Celestial Kingdom is to be in the presence of the Father. Baptism into Christ’s covenant is the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom, Endowment and Sealing under Christ’s covenant is the entrance to Exaltation, but everything in the Celestial Kingdom is the presence of the Father.

    Celestial marriage–being sealed in the temple–and thus the priesthood, is necessary to obtain Celestial glory.

    This is simply not correct. Please see the LDS scripture D&C 132:

    1 IN the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; 2 And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; 3 And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

    This is a perfect example of prooftexting into Mormonism what one believes when the text is very clearly saying something different. Please see my latest post on prooftexting.

    So, regardless of what the BoM says, later latter-day prophecy must have overruled it.

    Or you never read the D&C closely enough to know this. I’ve known this since I was 12 years old. That’s not a neener neener comment, I’m just trying to point out that Mormons should be trusted better on Mormon doctrine than ex-mo’s no matter how nice they are in real life, just like Evangelicals better than Mormons on Evangelical doctrine, and Catholics on Catholic doctrine, rather than Eastern Orthodox.

    I am saddened by the pain the policy caused my brothers and sisters in the gospel. I’m angered by the racism that was in the hearts of so many people, even church leadership. President Kimball wrote once mentioned how he had to overcome his own racist heart so that he could receive the revelation. Imagine being a prophet and having to learn from the spirit how wrong your own thoughts were. I’m humbled by that.

    I agree that it is very difficult to have a temple marriage and create stress for the family. I can’t imagine it. But I know the stress of not being married in a “marrieds-only church). I also can’t imagine how upset I’d be if I made that sacrifice and later left the church.

  81. Gloria said:

    With that said, I honestly believe that they [LDS folks] hold many beliefs about “who” God and Jesus are that are not biblical. I think you would agree? Many of the unique LDS beliefs about who God and Jesus stem from the teachings of Joseph Smith and not the Bible.

    I agree that we believe things about God and Jesus that aren’t in the Bible. No question about it. But we don’t believe things about God and Jesus that contradict the Bible.

    I believe in the Bible as much as just about any Protestant does. But I don’t believe it’s the only source of revelation.

    And if you believe that the Bible is the only source of knowledge about God and Jesus, then you believe in something about the Bible that the Bible doesn’t teach about itself.

  82. I have a Mormonism 101 question…

    PC, I appreciate the way that you’re trying to delineate how the CK works, and the entrance v. exaltation aspect of it. However, I always understood that the CK was it. That’s as high as you go, so for those of us who aren’t going to make it there after this lifetime, there are two other (lower) kingdoms of Heaven.

    So while I absolutely see the difference between salvation and exaltation, I guess I always just conflated exaltation with entrance into the CK (with that stemming from the idea that baptism keeps you out of Outer Darkness, and then you work up from there).

    Do I need to be calling a missionary to show me a Venn diagram for this?

    For the record, you may all describe me as protestant/Methodist/clueless. I vigorously disagree with some of my church’s past stances (e.g. isolationism in the run up to WWII), but I am also willing to wrestle with those as part of the theological heritage that is helping me grow in Christ. Plus, Mormons are supposed to love Methodists, so that means you Mo’s have to be nice to me :).

  83. Gloria, Protestant and Evangelical are just terms that are used to define what type of Christian you are. Based on your own definitions of what you believe you fit perfectly in the category of Evangelical Protestant. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in the group, but that’s where you are now. You may not be striving to be an Evangelical, but to categorize you differently than a liberal Catholic the term has risen and it suits you. A rose by any other than is still an Evangelical.

    As far as whether any of us have to apologize for stupid things are forefathers have said. . . .I am front and center to call out dumb Protestants and Catholics. But it’s a bit different for a Protestant than it is a Catholic or a Mormon.

    Fred Phelps doesn’t speak for all Protestants. Nobody claims he does, not even Phelps. Mormon Prophets and Catholic Popes speak for all Mormons and all Catholics respectively. They been given the authority to do so. So the Mormon church is on the hook for things Thomas Monson says from the pulpit in the name of the church.

  84. PM, I call bull. First, just because you go to church actively now doesn’t mean that you know more than me about the gospel. That’s stupid and doesn’t necessarily follow. Now, it is entirely possible that you know more than me about the gospel because you have studied it harder or longer or with more of an eye to caring about the degrees of glory or whatever, but not because I now choose to drink coffee and you do not. Seriously.

    Also, I think that you are splitting hairs with in saying that people without the priesthood could be exalted, as you surely concede that they could not be FULLY exalted (i.e. not the highest degree of glory, whatever tenuous and not fully fleshed out meaning that might have). And, btw, if you read my original comment, you’ll see that I DID specify the highest level of celestial glory, and after using it the first time I figured it was understood.

    The fact is, whatever the highest degree of celestial glory entails, for a hundred years or so, that was denied to black people purely because of their race.

    And the other fact is, how can one say that the highest level of celestial glory isn’t what people should be shooting for? Why would there be levels if the highest one wasn’t the best? What would be the point of trying to go to the middle degree of Celestial glory? To run 25 miles of a marathon and then have someone say, you know what? You can’t finish this race. You’ve done a nice round number, and now you can tell people that you ran like hell, could have totally run a marathon, but for the fact that you’re in some category that we have decided isn’t as worthy, you don’t get to finish.

    So, I call bull. I can make up lots of apologetic reasons to argue on the side of it being okay, but I will just say now that you do NOT get to pull an “I have a temple recommend” card on me.

  85. Tim, for what it’s worth, when I was Mormon, while I would agree that the prophet spoke for the Mormon church, he did NOT speak for me. I had my own relationship with God, and that trumped anything anyone else said.

    So, while the LDS organization may have been responsible for stuff that it had done, the fact is, those doctrines/policies weren’t on the books when I was a member, was never something that I engaged in, believed in, or had to disagree with/fight/whatever since it was over when I joined. As such, it would be silly for me to apologize. It would be like me apologizing that my grandfather was a total racist. I can’t apologize for him, because I did not partake in those activities.

  86. Whitney–latter day revelation says that there are three degrees of glory–telestial, terrestial (sp?) and celestial. And in the Celestial Kingdom, there are three levels (not named). It is not clear what happens at any of those three levels of celestial glory, but presumably two of them have ceilings and the highest one is the best.

    But, of course, you can take what I say with a grain of salt because clearly my own scripture study, endowments, prior callings, and all of that mean nothing since I am no longer fit to enter a temple. 😀

    (ooh, I think I’m bitter tonight. Kullervo needs to come home soon!)

  87. Why thank you, katyjane. I had forgotten that CK is subdivided, so I appreciate the help, even though I understand you’re sooooo out of the loop :).

    So if I’m correct, the argument is over what gets you into even the lowest level of the CK. I have always heard that baptism’s enough for the Telestial Kingdom, but that’s not exaltation, correct? Like, I as a gentile who will presumably be posthumously baptized by my LDS relatives will gain entrance into the Telestial Kingdom, but I will have to do something else to work my way up.

    But PC, you’re saying that baptism alone is enough to get me away from the kids’ table and up at the grown ups’ table?

    (I don’t mean to sound disrespectful by describing degrees of glory in terms of Thanksgiving dinner seating arrangements, but I’m a visual person and I need similes to understand things.)

  88. Also, katyjane, it’s time we organized a picnic or something so that you’re not sad about Kullervo and so that you kids don’t escape to Chicago without us meeting.

  89. Whitney, if by “grown up table” you mean the “Celestial Kingdom,” then yes–baptism alone will do that for you. But in Mormon teaching, you can’t sit at the head table (i.e. highest degree of Celestial glory) unless you receive temple ordinances.

    What if I hop a plane to DC? Can I come on the picnic too?

  90. Katie ~ I agree that it would be good if the LDS church apologized for these things. When I was truly considering the church, it was certainly disheartening to me that people seemed to just want to sweep stuff under the rug. Seeing these mistakes repudiated would have meant a lot to me.

    Still, as a current non-member, I don’t really feel like it’s my place to stamp my foot and demand an apology for these things. I do believe the church is more culpable for what its leaders said about race than I am for what my past Protestant leaders said about race because of the way the LDS church is structured, but given the lingering divide between evangelicalism and the historic black denominations, I’m just not comfortable putting too much pressure in this area.

    Maybe it’s more appropriate for members to demand apologies for these things. I don’t know.

    In any case, wait till I do my posts on Ed Decker and Walter Martin in the next few weeks. This “your leaders said XYZ now own up to it!” attitude is about to swing around and bite some evangelicals in the ass.

  91. gloria, I frankly don’t care if you call me a “fundamentalist Mormon” as long as you make it clear what you mean by that.

    And yes – I DO personally have to apologize for whatever wrongs my forefathers committed.

  92. Maybe it’s more appropriate for members to demand apologies for these things. I don’t know.

    I would say that it is certainly more appropriate for members to demand apologies for these things. Well, members and victims. I think you’re right that outsiders need to be wary–if for no other reason than because there’s often a little “moat and beam” action going on.

  93. Well, I can tell you one thing.

    Those in the LDS Church are probably a lot more willing to take criticism from Jack (an Evangelical who keeps a balanced and sometimes sympathetic view of Mormonism) better than from a mostly critical ex-Mormon source like gloria.

    That’s not necessarily a reflection on gloria. It’s just a fact of life.

    Likewise, they might take criticism from me better than from Jack. Boundaries here might get blurry depending on tone and content of the criticism.

    And they are going to take it better from my orthodox, highly loyal, repeatedly tested, and less critical father than from me.

    So, if Evangelicals want change in the LDS Church, they might do well to encourage Mormon insiders to push for such change.

    However, my experience with a lot of anti-Mormons is that when they encounter a Mormon who is pushing for reform in the LDS Church, they tend to feel more threatened than encouraged. They then immediately try to marginalize, undermine and trivialize that particular Mormon reformer and show why “he’s not really part of the Church.”

    Anti-Mormons continually do this to Robert Millet, for example. He pushes Mormons to recover their existing theological resources on Christ’s grace. Some Evangelicals apparently find this threatening and quickly work to show why he’s either irrelevant or a liar (I’ve heard both).

    Which makes me think that a lot of anti-Mormons don’t want the LDS Church corrected – they want it annihilated.

  94. Thank you Katie, that was helpful.

    Everyone can come out to DC and we’ll throw a party. It’ll be like a convention, but without cool costumes.

    (Threadjack done.)

  95. KatyJane,
    My comment indicates nothing that I should respect you as less than peson, or that there’s anything “wrong” with you. Rather, your I’m suggesting that your worldview is tainted by your recent experiences. You can call bull, but I Mormons still get to define Mormonism better than an exmo or a nomo.

    I’ve usually found when people claim, “That’s just semantics.” That they don’t understand the difference, not that the words are slightly different.

    Gloria claimed that Black people would have been kept out of the father’s presence and the Celestial kingdom. I loudly protested, admitted correctly how the policy did limit them. I’m sorry if you’d rather keep up this charade in your head of what the doctrine was, but excluding black people from the presence of the Father is what was implied, and therefore, that’s what I denied.

    For the record, Brigham Young also speculated that people of African descent would gain the priesthood during the Millenium, so this straw-man of excluding africans forever from exaltation is still wrong. But, that even if he hadn’t speculated that, they would still be in the celestial kingdom, still in the presence of the Father, and the Son, still saved.

  96. Seth: step in here and clean my comment up, but isn’t Mormonism much more interested in “replacing” evangelicalism, and not so much seeing them reform ? So we have “annihilation” on one side and “replacement” on the other. If you want to brag on the difference, OK….

    GERMIT

  97. Well, yeah… good point germit.

    I guess I was channeling one of my other acquaintances online who’s always complaining about the confrontational and boundary-maintenance paradigms that Mormons and Evangelicals usually operate under. Sometimes I agree with him. Other times I wonder if outreach is ultimately going anywhere.

    At any rate, we die-hards can at least enrich our online discussions by greater openness, even if we are secretly poaching each others’ flocks when no one is looking.

  98. Seth: I have no problem at all with the poaching picture… I mean, that’s the point, really, and maybe have some fun and giggles while we’re at it (I’d say Charlize Theron in a mini-cooper, but I’m kinda married….)

    still, avoiding ass-hat status is probably a good idea, unless you can bring it off with JACK’s certain “je ne sais quoi…” easier said than done…

  99. Katie:

    I wrote that comment when it was still before 8:00 a.m. Therefore I was full of nonsense.

    Costumes–especially colored belts of power–are encouraged.

    At the topic:

    I attended an F&T sacrament service yesterday at a local singles’ ward, and I can say without hesitation that there was no mistaking that church for a protestant church. There were some good testimonies about the power of Christ’s Atonement and prayer in our lives, but every single person also thanked Joseph Smith for restoring the true gospel (or other similarly distinctive points).

    Doctrinally, the church may be somewhat less controversial than it once was, but I don’t think Mormonism will ever lose that special Mormon flavor. At least enough to convince evangelicals that they’re all within a couple pages of each other.

  100. Whitney, re: costumes. Whew.

    Funny, you went to a Mormon church yesterday, and I went to an Assembly of God church and rocked out with Jesus. It was really, really fun. (Not that you attend Assembly of God churches…but I just thought it was a weird coincidence that we both went to different churches yesterday…)

    Anyway. I agree, while Mormonism may move closer to Christian orthodoxy, I really don’t see it losing its distinct Mormon-ness any time soon. You’d have to take away more than just grace ‘n’ works, but priesthood, prophets, modern revelation, “one true church” language–not to mention the “biggies” like nature of God, pre-existence, creatio ex materia, and so forth. I’m not saying it could never happen, but–well, actually, maybe I am saying that. I don’t see it happening. It certainly couldn’t happen and retain anything that would make it meaningfully Mormon.

  101. Katie,

    Do you like the more contemporary worship service? I ask because it is one of the things I absolutely love the very most since leaving the LDS. I know it’s very different then LDS music/worship …. so just wondering what your take is on it , coming from an LDS perspective.

    My husband, who is LDS does not like the contemporary worship music, he says it’s not “reverent”. He does like the southern gospel stuff, which is ok to me, but not near as good as Chris Tomlin, or Casting Crowns. 🙂

    Just wondering,
    gloria

  102. Seth,

    That’s how my husband feels. He finds the variety of instruments used distracting… he often says that he can’t “hear” the message very well. He does enjoy southern gospel or country gospel music though — oh yeah , he does make one exception to a contemporary worship song — Hillsong’s : Shout to the Lord. I think that has become his favorite all time hymn/song. Hillsong is fairly contemporary, so I am suprised — but it such a beautiful song with an amazing message. He will play it over and over again………

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  103. (Nobody asked me but I’m answering anyway.)

    Lately I’ve preferred a more contemporary style of worship, but my current church mixes it up a little so that we keep a similar format to the traditional service but have different music. For instance, there is still a traditional blessing of the bread and cup at each service, which we take by intinction, and our pre-scripture-reading prayer is usually very meditation-focused.

    There are some contemporary evangelical services that I really like; others seem to go a little too far toward flashy presentation and decoration. I definitely find that off-putting, but it certainly speaks to some people, so I just try to focus on the message and then go back to my usual services.

    Katie, we are totally interfaith dialogue warriors. (Oh, and I was attending MJ’s ward, and she says hi. Have I mentioned that the uncanny ability of all Mormons to consistently harmonize on each hymn makes me feel very inadequate?)

  104. That is a good point, Germit. I’m actually not sure that “annihilation” is the LDS church’s goal—at least, not at the moment. Haven’t we covered elsewhere on this blog that there’s room in LDS theology for God to have plans and purposes for people outside of the LDS church? In theory, can’t Mormons accept that it isn’t God’s desire for everyone to be Mormon right at this second?

    Of course, getting your zealous missionary-minded Mormon friends to accept that can be quite the task.

    Nevertheless, here’s a few things about me that a lot of people probably don’t know:

    1) I don’t have a problem with converting people out of the LDS church. I’ve helped people leave the church for Protestant Christianity before. That isn’t my approach for every Mormon I meet, but if someone is unhappy in the LDS church while coming to or maintaining a faith in Christ apart from LDS teachings, then hell yes I want them to leave.

    I expect Mormons would say similar things about Protestants.

    2) I also don’t have a problem with the actual existence of countercult ministries. I dislike their “Mormonism is a cult–Mormons aren’t Christians–Mormons believe in a different Jesus” approach; I think that does more harm than good. I loathe their insistence on using the works of people who have been caught red-handed lying about either Mormonism or their credentials or both, Ed Decker and Walter Martin being the most notorious culprits. And I’m not happy with their tendency to ignore informed criticisms of their work and trends in modern scholarship on subjects like henotheism in the Bible, creation ex nihilo, theosis, etc.

    But if their only goals were to disseminate information on heretical Christian groups in a respectful manner, pull people out of these groups and stop people from joining them, they would be perfectly square with me. That’s not my preferred approach, but I’d be happy to live and let live. I know that my opinion really matters to them and they’re just longing for my approval. 😛

    BTW, not all countercult ministries offend on all of the points I listed above. It isn’t fair to treat them like they’re all the same when some of them have stepped up to answering those problems better than others.

    The behavior often exhibited by evangelicals who are devotees of countercult philosophy is also problematic, but that’s another story.

    @ Whitney’s point ~ I think Mormonism will always have a distinctly “Mormon” flavor, even in my preferred scenario where Mormonism reforms to the point where it can be regarded as another branch of orthodox Christianity. I’ve long thought that if Joseph Smith had stopped introducing new doctrines before the Nauvoo era, Mormonism would have turned out “quirky-but-okay.” Trying to get Mormonism into that “quirky-but-okay” category is what I’m after, though I know it has a long way to go.

  105. My husband told me yesterday that he finds my church’s style of worship “irreverent.” He said it as nicely as possible, but it broke my heart just the same.

    /sigh.

  106. Gloria and Whitney, I really, REALLY liked the contemporary service. It was my first time attending such a service. It wasn’t too crazy or loud–some hand-raising, but no yelling or screaming, which I think would have been a bit much for my first time–and the woman who lead the worship service had an awesome voice. I really loved that they spent like 20-30 minutes just praising Jesus.

    Even my husband, who I had to practically drag to the service, said that it was really nice to hear such a central focus on Christ (often lacking in LDS services, let’s not lie).

    Oooh, and Whitney, say hi to MJ for me!! I’m kind of jealous you get to hang out with her. 😉

    Jack, I agree that most Nauvoo-era doctrines would have to go, but don’t you think the “one and only true church” doctrine would have to drop before it could quirky-but-okay? (Also, who would you put in that category now? 7th Day Adventists?)

  107. P.S. Whitney, sometimes my theatre friends and I loved to do a little thing called “harnomizing” in church–which I can assure you is a very, VERY different thing from harmonizing.

    If we were in person, I would demonstrate for you. Rest assured, it is very ugly.

  108. I hear you, Jack. My husband has said the same thing.

    I can understand where he is coming from though…. I mean you have been to enough LDS services to know that their worship style is very conservative. When I was LDS I used to love the special “musical numbers” because it broke up the monotomy of the traditional.

    I think sometimes many are comfortable with what they are used to — it’s like comfort food – what’s familiar and conjures up those warm fuzzy feelings. Kind of like some people couldn’t fathom a thanksgiving meal ‘complete’ without cranberry sauce, even though I could pass on it completely. ( I don’t like the stuff!)

    Regards,
    gloria

  109. Katie,

    I am glad you enjoyed it… and yeah it’s pretty awesome to praise Jesus for a good portion of time, isn’t it?!

    My church is pretty small so we don’t have a full band, but we do have an electric piano and our worship leaders ( a husband/wife team) do an awesome job — so focused on Jesus. It just blsses my heart so.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  110. Nothing as irreverent as singing songs about Jesus to the tune of 16th Century German drinking songs.

    It just so happens those songs sound stogy now so we think that God likes them better.

  111. and the one thing everyone agreed on in the 19th Century was that Methodist were by FAR the most reverent Christians ever created. So it makes sense that we hold their worship style up as reverent today

    /end sarcasm.

  112. Katie wrote:
    Jack, I agree that most Nauvoo-era doctrines would have to go, but don’t you think the “one and only true church” doctrine would have to drop before it could quirky-but-okay?

    this is what puts LDS in an entirely different category than many christian groups where I just agree to disagree. My Methodist, AofGOD, Presbyterian, and non-denoms do not maintain this special status and therefore do not approach me and my faith as sub-standard. Different, yes. Different in ways that are very important and worth debating about, yes. Both we are on an equal playing field. JS shot that appoach down 100% (as do all ONE TRUE CHURCH models). this makes brotherhood, in the fullest sense of the word, a huge problem. The problem is similar, though perhaps not quite as bad with the Roman Catholic position (at least that of the current pope) of all protestant churches deemed ‘defective’. If ol’ pointy hat head could own up to the same being said of all RC churches, I could even live with THAT. Who the hell is not, in some way, “defective” ??

    I know that SETH and others go against the LDS mainstream on this, and I commend their approach, but something about being deemed substandard from the get-go just will never sit right with me.

    GERMIT

  113. My take on contemporary Protestant worship is that I like some of it. Some of it can seem too much like a performance rather than an act of corporate worship. And, as I’ve said before, the songs with ultra-simplistic lyrics that are repeated dozens of times drive me batty. But I attended a Nazarene church a few weeks ago that had contemporary music that didn’t have either of those negatives, and I liked it quite a bit. They even did an LDS favorite, “How Great Thou Art,” to a soft-rock beat, and I loved it.

    I don’t find contemporary music per se irreverent. Of course, I didn’t grow up LDS. But for those who have been steeped in an environment of equating reverence with 19th-century hymns, and who think that God speaks to us in 15th-century English, I can see why it would be offputting.

    But there is some hope. I understand that Gladys Knight and her gang have put on some pretty good musical firesides, and some of the CDs my kids have brought home from EFY (a sort of indoor summer camp for teens) have been pretty good. So there is some hope for some improvement (from my perspective) in LDS worship music. It probably won’t happen soon enough for me.

    KL asked:

    Also, who would you put in that category now? 7th Day Adventists?

    The Adventists see themselves as a “remnant” church, so a church that is unique but not the “only true” church. Some evangelical apologists accept the SDAs a truly Christian, and some don’t. “Quirky but OK” might be a reasonable way to describe the way some evangelicals see the Adventists. Some of them see the Catholic church the same way.

  114. Tim ~ LDS hymns use German drinking tunes? Oh, you must share which ones. That sounds like great ammo.

    Katie & Germit ~ Are the church’s “one and only true church” views problematic? Yes and no. If the church continues to portray the rest of the Christian world as hopelessly lost and Spirit-depraved, then yes.

    As Germit sort of pointed out though, the Roman Catholic Church holds a similar view. It toned down its anti-Protestant rhetoric a great deal with Vatican II and even accepts filthy Protestant baptisms now, but it still claims to be the only true church on the earth with the right to act in God’s name.

    The Greek Orthodox churches are in a similar boat and I believe they usually require re-baptism of Protestant converts for the same reasons.

    I don’t know if this is coming from the top down or if this is simply something I’ve been getting from Mormons on the Internet, but lately it feels like I’ve interacted with an awful lot of Mormons with kinder views on the apostasy and Christians outside the church. More acknowledgment of the good things accomplished by the Christian world during the apostasy, more talk of our capacity to feel the Spirit’s guidance and experience spiritual gifts, more praise for the commitment that our baptisms symbolize even if they’re still viewed as invalid as ordinances.

    So, I could see Mormonism as becoming something along the lines of what the RC and EO churches are to Protestantism now: in tension with, but still accepted by us.

    I agree, Germit, that it can still come off as very condescending, but I’m not sure that can be helped. It’s not like my claims that Mormonism is “heretical” and “corrupt/incomplete Christianity” aren’t condescending or somewhat offensive in themselves, even if I do my best to present those views in a non-polemical manner.

  115. I think it helped so much when the LDS dropped the preacher part in their temple endowment ceremony — I believe that was deeply offensive to even many LDS! My sister was endowed prior to 1990 when the changes were made, and she was very offended by the part with the minister working with satan. She didn’t go back to the temple for years and years. I can’t imagine LDS converts from traditional protestant faith traditions appreciating that part either. 🙂

    I just don’t see the LDS anytime soon dropping the “one true” church part though. That one fact truly seperates them from the rest of christiandom, as well as their beliefs on the nature of God. Even the Catholics uphold biblical beliefs on the Godhead.

    I think in order for the LDS to be “welcomed” into the fold of Christianity, they would need to drop or revamp their beliefs on the nature of God first and foremost, and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    I also agree with other comments here about the Nauvoo period . Joseph really went off the deep end during that time period . ( as far as doctrinal views and of course private family relationships. 🙂

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  116. oops! I meant so say ” sister in law” was endowed. Sorry about that! Kids around me and rather distracting too. 🙂

  117. Jack,

    “I’ve long thought that if Joseph Smith had stopped introducing new doctrines before the Nauvoo era, Mormonism would have turned out, “quirky but ok.”

    With all due respect, I disagree with you. There already is a part of the Restoration movement which disavows most of what was introduced in Nauvoo. It is called, “The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” We do not believe in polygamy, AdamGod, Celestial marriage, eternal progression, you name it. And let me tell you, being RLDS in the Bible belt is most definitely NOT “quirky but ok.” I can definitely testify to being treated as a second class citizen by “Christians” throughout my youth. Why do you think leadership in Independence, Missouri changed the name of the church to the Community of Christ?
    I invite you to read some of what the countercult people have written about the RLDS. It absolutely sickens me. I think it is rather bogus, the idea expressed by some Evangelicals that, “Oh, if the LDS would just drop this or that, they would be acceptable.” The enemies of the Restoration will always be the enemies of the Restoration. I believe with all my heart that God will judge the countercult people. In my opinion, Hell is not hot enough for them, as far as I’m concerned.
    To anyone who doesn’t know, I am 5th generation RLDS. Got born again at 21, after some 22 years I had my name put back on the rolls of the Community of Christ. I am technically a member of a local United Methodist church with my husband as well as being on the rolls of the Community of Christ. My daughter attends an Episcopal school, and I attend chapel with her as much as I can. My daughter will have to choose at some point what she wants to be, either Episcopal or Methodist (or if she wanted to go CoC, I could live with that too.)

  118. Lisa,

    Your comments were interesting to me — seeing I live in Midwest, where there are many CofC chapels. Some friends from my local church do not doubt that their CofC friends are “born again”. I have not sat down with a CofC member to be able to judge — but can I ask you, do you believe that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones like the LDS teach?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  119. Lisa ~ I’ve gotta run, but in fairness most of those countercult ministries which condemn the RLDS/CoC also say harsh, condemning things of Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Seventh Day Adventists. They even said I wasn’t a Christian when it suited their purposes—and I’m a member of the Assemblies of God going to TEDS in the Fall (!). Recently my blog had a visit from an entrenched counter-cultist whose web site declared several Methodist and Presbyterian mainline churches to be in heresy because of their positions on gays. Matt Slick of CARM has openly called the egalitarian position on ordaining women pastors and elders “heretical.” Yup, that’s right, every church that allows women to serve as pastors and elders is in at least partial heresy according to him.

    My point being, there are some people who are never satisfied and will always be looking to judge/attack other denominations and people as “non-Christian.” If they don’t like what you say, they will find an excuse to label you non-Christian regardless of theology.

    I’ve spoken with many other evangelicals who do regard the RLDS church as strange-but-okay. I believe Craig Blomberg even mentioned it in his essay in TNMC, but now I really do have to go.

  120. JACK wrote:
    I agree, Germit, that it can still come off as very condescending, but I’m not sure that can be helped

    and that’s probably the case all the way around, although when I’m blogging with CleanCut, FoF, or Seth, it doesn’t seem near as strong…but the claims made on both side will always ‘set the table’ a certain way.

    an aside about the baptisms: there are plenty of protestant churches that would , and do, rebaptize in a heartbeat, even if the baptism was from a recognized denomination. of course, that bugs me to no end (as a REQUIRED step to church membership…if it were optional, I can kind of see it). So much for one faith, one LORD, one baptism….I guess… a big difference is that there are MANY in the ev. fold who will quickly point out the hypocrisy of this and cry ‘foul’. Granted, we are ALL hypocrits, varying only in degree. Geez, I sure am cranky today….

    GERMIT

  121. I think part of the problem is that I just don’t really like contemporary music that much in general. U2 is about the only Christian band I know of that doesn’t basically suck eggs (and calling them a “Christian band” is pushing it).

    Even back in the 90s when that song “His Hands” was popular for female soprano wannabes in LDS wards in Utah, I couldn’t really sit through a rendition without painfully wincing (mostly internally).

    I’m also one of those people who is tempted to flat-out get up and walk out of the classroom every time a teacher pulls out the TV and VCR for a brief video thing. I think I actually have walked out, come to think of it…

  122. For the record, the Methodist church will not rebaptize anyone from other protestant denominations or the Catholic church. Pastors who do so are under threat of losing their status within the church.

    However, there is still an official distinction when it comes to those in the LDS church…those wishing to join the Methodist church are asked to formally leave the LDS church as well as taking classes on the Methodist church itself. But I think they were pretty tactful about it…see below:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by self-definition, does not fit within the bounds of the historic, apostolic tradition of Christian faith…[Mormons’] explicitly [profess] distinction and separateness from the ecumenical community.”

    Obviously some of you will take issue with what constitutes “historic, apostolic tradition,” but still. I say it’s tactful.

  123. This is my favorite Christian song.

    Ignore the weird apocalyptic images. I couldn’t find a better video.

    Eric, I’m happy you like EFY…but I so hate it. I once dumped a boyfriend for buying me an EFY CD for my birthday. Ew. (Okay, so there was way more to it than that, lest I come across as a total shallow B–but I’d go so far as to say the EFY CD was the final straw.)

    Seth, I totally don’t blame you for getting up and leaving in the middle of those cheesy videos. They are usually pretty lame.

  124. Katie, I once dumped a guy because he wouldn’t let me listen to my favorite Pearl Jam (also my favorite song, period) while we were driving around. On my birthday. So you’re totally not a nasty person.

    Okay, it was also a last straw kind of thing, but still. Never mess with a woman’s musical tastes.

  125. Gloria,

    In a word, No, I do not. We don’t believe in Eternal progression, so why would God have or need a body? The RLDS church has its own version of Joseph’s First Vision, but I do not remember what it said as far as what exactly Joseph saw. (Beings of light vs. two personages, etc) The thing about the First Vision that resonates with me now is the part where God says, “These people draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” I learned the First Vision as a girl in Sunday school, but after over 20 years in the Evangelical world, those words resonate into my very soul, because I have a real understanding, I think, of what God was trying to say to Joseph, if indeed the First Vision is true. (And I’m not saying it is.) It’s my understanding that the RLDS church has always believed in the Trinity, the same Trinity as the rest of Christianity, but I don’t remember it being talked about at all growing up.

  126. Never mess with a woman’s musical tastes.

    Especially when her musical tastes are far, far superior to yours.

    (The boy in question didn’t even like music [major red flag] until I pestered him enough about it and he said that he liked Shakira. That was truly the beginning of the end for me. [I also think he secretly liked boys. But that is another story entirely.])

  127. Wait, what’s wrong with Shakira? And Katie, that Johnny Cash song was used in the Dawn of the Dead (2004) soundtrack, which was by far one of the scariest movies ever. I think Zack Snyder is now officially on my polyandry wish list through sheer filmmaking talents alone.

    I have fairly eclectic music tastes, pretty much anything except country. Still, I don’t think I would have married my husband if he’d tried to change my musical preferences.

    I’ve never really thought of U2 as a “Christian band.” They’re certainly Christian artists in a band, and their music sometimes has spiritual themes, but I definitely don’t think they’re a Christian band. As Flyleaf put it, being a Christian and a plumber doesn’t make you a “Christian plumber,” so being Christians in a band doesn’t really make you a Christian band.

    Seth, you think the Nauvoo period rocks because it’s secretly your dream to have a kajillion wives. Come on, time to ‘fess up.

    Back to the subject of worship music though: I don’t really fault people for having different tastes, but I do hate the attitude that a song has to sound like a dirge or else it’s offensive to God’s ears. When I go to LDS churches, I seldom feel like the music is joyful. Maybe other people feel it, but I don’t. That would be my biggest complaint.

  128. Luther and Wesley both took contemporary music and redeemed it for Christian worship (including some bar songs). LDS worship is heavily based on what they did with what was once contemporary music. At the time, some considered it irreverent. The pipe organ was irreverent at first.

    Seth, I can easily agree that there is lots of bad music out there masquerading as Christian. That doesn’t mean it’s irreverent. It means it’s bad. It wouldn’t be too hard for me to point out some pretty terrible songs in the LDS hymnal. But it would be inappropriate for me to say you’re being irreverent because Mormon song leaders have bad taste in music.

    I understand contemporary music is different and unfamiliar to you in a worship context. But don’t label it as any thing other than different and unfamiliar. You’re placing a spiritual value on the tempo, repetition and volume of a song.

  129. I believe that the notion that Mormonism will go mainstream so that it can satisfy some demand from Protestants in general or Evs in particular in order to be regarded as part of mainstream “Christianity” is far fetched nonsense.

    First, who gives a damn what Protestants call us as a theological one-up-man-ship and often an up-yours-manship? We don’t want to be mischaracterised in the sense that it is claimed we don’t worship the Jesus of the Bible (as if there were two different Jesus’s walking around Palestine and the Mormons got the wrong one) or that we don’t worship Christ as Savior and King. Such caricatures are false and any Ev who makes such a claim has the further duty to qualify such assertions to clarify the sense in which they claim Mormons aren’t Jesus. If one claims that Mormons don’t worship the “Jesus of the Bible” (like Gloria often does), as if there is some single and unified established definition that Mormons don’t share, then I believe that such naivte ought to be challenged and rejected soundly — but mostly because it just mischaracterises what the Bible is and how Jesus is addressed through various views with in it.

    In my experience, LDS may also care if they are considered Christian in the sense that others judge as as having behavior unworthy of Christ. We care whether that is true, but not what Evs think about it. I know I don’t give a woof how Evs judge me since there is only one whose judgment matters to me.

    Further, almost all Mormons that I know love the distinctive doctrines that have been restored by Joseph Smith through revelation. The notion that God is a person and not merely personal will surely remain the hallmark of Mormon thought. The belief that God is not, like the Unmoved Mover of Aristotle and Aquinas, completely unmoved by anything outside of his own self-adoration, will never be accepted by Mormons. The belief in eternal progression will not go away because it is a far superior view and has solid scriptural basis.

    The belief in pre-mortal existence is one of the most distinctive and most loved doctrines revealed by Joseph Smith because it makes so much sense and puts life into perspective — in addition to throwing light on a number of otherwise opaque biblical passages. The doctrine of three degrees of glory is vastly superior to the notion of a single heaven and a cut off for those who don’t quite make it to hell and, in my experience, is widely loved by Mormons.

    But the most distinctive view of Mormonism is its belief in free will — genuine free will. I don’ believe that the Ev worldview permits a view of real free will. In my experience, Mormons are solidly committed to the idea of genuine free will — and even those who leave almost always attempt to transport such a view of real free will in their new theologies (even tho it is really in tension).

    Now my views are certainly not scientific. Perhaps my experience is jaundiced by the fact that I dialog with those who are really well informed about Mormonism and its beliefs and know more than a little about the OT and NT, theology and philosophy and how ideas and doctrines do or don’t work together.

    It seems to me that those who adopt the Ev worldview reject these views because they are associated with something they have rejected and not because they have considered such views and weighed and assessed them.

    If it is up to me, these beliefs will remain the hallmark of Mormon faith in the context of the central belief of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ and the divine unity of the three divine persons in the Godhead who have invited us to share their same relationship with them to our mutual glory and exaltation.

  130. I agree with Blake as to the various doctrines that are beloved by Mormons and unlikely to disappear in the interest of some sort of mainstreaming. They are many of the doctrines that made the LDS faith attractive to me (and, like he said, most of them have biblical support).

    On the other hand, I don’t agree with what he said about evangelicals and free will. My experience hasn’t been that there’s that big of a difference between evangelical and LDS views on agency. But, then again, my evangelical background came from an Arminian position rather than a Calvinistic one, so perhaps I’m inclined to view evangelical thought from that side.

  131. Blake ~ It’s hard for me to tell whom your responding to; I’m assuming mostly Gloria.

    To clarify my own position: I don’t want the LDS church to change its doctrines because it cares what evangelicals think of them. I want it to change its doctrines because the Spirit moves the church to reform, and moves believers within the church to call for reform.

    And if I’m wrong about those doctrines not being from God, well, obviously my scenario probably won’t happen.

    I definitely believe the church has changed doctrines, policies, and rituals because they became intractable among the membership or the culture at large. The 1890 polygamy changes, the 1978 racial changes, the 1990 and 2005 temple ceremony changes are all examples of this. I don’t view those changes as coming because of pressure from the outside Christian world though. Keeping your patrons happy is just good business practice.

    Further, almost all Mormons that I know love the distinctive doctrines that have been restored by Joseph Smith through revelation.

    Funny, I can point to quite a few Bloggernacle threads where active, faithful Mormons express issues with distinctive Mormon doctrines and practices introduced by Joseph Smith such as garments, various aspects of the temple ceremony, the progression of God the Father from mortality to deity (which you yourself seem to reject) and eternal polygamy. Most of the Mormons I know who left the church or the non-members who didn’t join had issues with those doctrines. I think all of these things could very well change in the near future.

    But the ones you list, I agree those are a long way from changing, if ever.

    I agree that Arminians emphasize free will — I just deny that they do so consistently.

    Why? Because Arminians accept the exhaustive foreknowledge of God?

  132. Lisa: thanks for adding your comments here. We studied D&C 76 yesterday in (LDS) church, and one of my thoughts was, “Sooo, Jack and Tim and all those other people who say they were okay with Mormonism until Nauvoo…they still okay with all this?”

  133. Jack: “Why? Because Arminians accept the exhaustive foreknowledge of God?”

    That, and also because they believe in creation from nothing and a notion of grace and original sin that requires God to transform a nature against one’s will and inclination in a way that leaves the will captive. However, Arminianism is far — far, far — preferable to Calvinism in my view.

    Jack: “I can point to quite a few Bloggernacle threads where active, faithful Mormons express issues with distinctive Mormon doctrines and practices introduced by Joseph Smith such as garments, various aspects of the temple ceremony”

    Really? I would have thought that faithful Mormons would be reticent to discuss such issues publicly. I could point to a lot where they don’t. Check these out: http://www.heavenlyascents.com/tag/heavenly-ascent/

    http://www.templestudy.com/

    Check out the sideblogs as well.

    Jack: “I definitely believe the church has changed doctrines”

    Well of course, that is just what continuing revelation is for — though I would call it clarifying and filling in what wasn’t previously revealed or fully understood previously. It isn’t an indictment of Mormonism that it changes as Evs seem to think. (Do you intend it as an indictment?) We Mormons still haven’t seen anything remotely like the early Church’s change from practice of Jewish table fellowship to rejection of such dietary commitments. Heck, add to that the rejection of the continuing faithfulness to the Law in favor of a partial acceptance within wholesale rejection of God’s prior revelation based upon a new revelation, and it is difficult to imagine a more radical change based on a new revelation.

    Jack: “the progression of God the Father from mortality to deity (which you yourself seem to reject) and eternal polygamy.”

    I don’t reject it; I just don’t believe that Joseph Smith taught it. I simply believe that we ought to faithfully reflect what he actually taught. You and I will disagree on whether “eternal polygamy” was ever intended to be an eternal doctrine or just a practice for a time depending on God’s commands for a particular time (as the book of Jacob in the BofM rather clearly teaches in my view and as many early Mormons leaders rather clearly taught and understood it. However, I have never thought that Mormon leaders were infallible or that early Mormon understanding was perfect and complete).

    The doctrines I have listed are distinctive, much more faithful to early Christianity and the Bible, and I believe will continue in Mormonism and they draw far more to the faith than they repel.

  134. Jack~ “Funny, I can point to quite a few Bloggernacle threads where active, faithful Mormons express issues with distinctive Mormon doctrines and practices introduced by Joseph Smith such as garments, various aspects of the temple ceremony, the progression of God the Father from mortality to deity (which you yourself seem to reject) and eternal polygamy. Most of the Mormons I know who left the church or the non-members who didn’t join had issues with those doctrines. I think all of these things could very well change in the near future.”

    Practices have always changed from the beginning of Mormonism. Most of the D&C doctrines (save polygamy) have not. Eternal polygamy has been somewhat tempered if not disavowed, e.g. Pres. Hinckley’s Larry King (or was it 60 minutes?) statement, but the official practice of that doctrine was rolled back by revelation previously.

    I have heard a general authority claim that garments may be replaced by simply adding the distinctive marks to other clothing, which has essentially happened, but I can’t see the church getting rid of them entirely, but there is certainly no scripture that would preclude it if there was some symbolic replacement.

    However, those things are really quite superficial compared to the “big” differences between Mormons and the adherents to the Great Orthodoxy (or “Great Apostasy” depending on your perspective).

    Why do I say this? I think you would have to admit garment-wearing, temple-going, eternal polygamy accepting Mormons accepting into the Evangelical flock if we would just accept the Nicene creed. We would be weird but saved right?

    If Mormons dropped all of this stuff, we would still be preaching people to hell.

    It wouldn’t take a softening of doctrines to become “orthodox” it would take a gutting.

  135. Wait, what’s wrong with Shakira?

    LOL. There’s nothing wrong with Shakira per se, unless…

    1)–You’re a 23-year-old man; AND
    2)–You say she’s your favorite because you really like the way latin music makes you feel like dancing; AND
    3)–Your girlfriend is already 72% sure you’re gay.

    Otherwise, Shakira is just fine.

    that Johnny Cash song was used in the Dawn of the Dead (2004) soundtrack, which was by far one of the scariest movies ever. I think Zack Snyder is now officially on my polyandry wish list through sheer filmmaking talents alone.

    Scary movies scare me, but what really intrigues me about this comment is the second part. A polyandry wish list?! Brilliant!!

  136. Whoa there, I appreciate a good Shakira number at the end of a long day. I would hesitate to jump to any rash conclusions. . . I dare say her sound appeals to all sorts.

  137. 1. I love Shakira and have been known to karaoke her music.
    2. The first birthday that Kullervo and I were together, he made me listen to his music (that I hated–Alan Parsons Project, I believe) and wouldn’t let me listen to mine. He hasn’t lived it down yet. 🙂
    3. I love the pre-existance, possibly purely because of Saturday’s Warrior. “I’ve seen that smile somewhere before… I’ve heard that voice…” It makes me happy.

  138. KatieJane wrote:
    I think you’re safe.

    isn’t that what they always say in the scarey movie….right before the strings section kicks in and the lights go down ??

    the thot of JACK on ADD medication is kind of amusing.. how big a pill would THAT be ??

    GERMIT

  139. Blake. . . you know you love it. You have to admit that this blog is not nearly as boring as the theology-nerd blogs that you generally frequent.

    Katie- Gayness is trouble, if you are in the closet, pressured to get married and dating girls, its like a ticking time bomb. I know several people who had heartbreaking divorces after years of attempting heterosexual marriage when they were gay. It sucks for all sides, especially if there are children involved.

    I was joking about listening Shakira, I am generally unfamiliar with her music. . . but I have to admit that her hips actually don’t lie.

  140. Blake. . . you know you love it. You have to admit that this blog is not nearly as boring as the theology-nerd blogs that you generally frequent.

    is that like some kind of blog-noogie ??….I’m laughing, but that’s gotta hurt…

  141. Ive got a post hung up in “waiting moderation” — is there something we can do about that? I mean, how much more moderate can one be?

  142. One of these days, Katyjane, it’s just gonna be you, me, a bunch of amazed onlookers, and a karaoke machine. I wonder if they have Saturday’s Warrior karaoke CDs? Because that would make my life.

    Jared, yeah, I know several families similarly affected by the whole “getting married cures gay” myth. 😦

    Finally, @the topic, I’m curious as to what you evs would say is the bare minimum required to make Mormonism “quirky but okay”? Jack, you mentioned the Nauvoo period previously–would it have to disavow polygamy, temples, etc.–or is it just the nature of God/man stuff? Would accepting the Trinity do it?

  143. Blake, I can’t rescue comments from moderation on Tim’s posts, I only have admin rights on my own threads. I gave Tim a poke on Facebook to rescue the comment though. I can read it, but I’ll wait till it’s rescued to reply.

    For future reference (to everyone), comments go to moderation if they have more than one hyperlink in them, and it’s easy to miss comments that are in moderation when viewing the WordPress control panel, so it sometimes takes a while to rescue them.

  144. Katie, I do not feel educated enough on the matter to really comment, but then again I’m pretty wishy washy anyway about what all of this debate ultimately means.

    Personally, I think the understanding of the nature of God is my biggest stumbling block to my own acceptance of Mormon theology…I realize that said stumbling block is irrelevant if the Mormon take on it is the Capital T Truth, but that’s where I stand with things for now.

    (Note for Blake Ostler…you are a highly respected theologian who scares the intellectual crap out of me. Should you bother with any of part of the bland objection to Mormonism that I’ve said above, please be gentle with me.)

  145. Blake your comment is free
    https://ldstalk.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/mormon-collapse/#comment-9590

    Katie,

    The Trinity would do a lot to move the Mormon church into orthodoxy. It’s acceptance would also cause Mormons to be monotheist (not tri-theist, polytheist, henotheist or whatever they want to describe themselves as). It would also do away with the notion that people can become gods and someday act as God now does. It would be the single best thing to close the gap.

    ————————————————————————-

    Despite the protest that Mormonism is not becoming mainstream, a shift toward social trinitarianism is a BIG step toward pure trinitarianism. It’s different than tri-theism. A redefinition of exaltation to something more like glorification or theosis is also much different than a mortal becoming a God.

    I don’t know if it’s just milk before meat, but I’ve been hard pressed to find a Mormon who believes they’ll become something similar to God the same way Bruce McConkie did.

    Give Mormonism 400 years and the Nicene Creed won’t look quite as distasteful.

    What I fear is a shift toward liberal Christianity rather than a shift toward conservative Christianity. It seems many Mormons like the playbook of the late 19th Century theologians when it comes to interpreting the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price (and the Bible for that matter).

    As the Mainline denominations and the CofC have shown, that doesn’t lead to collapse but slow death. The focus becomes retaining and keeping what you have rather than evangelizing and joyfully pronouncing the good news. You lose your missionary impulse because you’re not quite sure that what you’re offering is better than what the culture at large already possesses.

    Like “sales” is the heart of every business, if you stop bringing in new “customers” you eventually end up with none. (this is a comment about all religion not just Mormonism lest anyone be confused.)

    I’d like to say that Jared is a new breed of Mormon Deist. I’m guessing he wouldn’t go on a mission if he were 19 again. If he did, he’d want it to be a purely service oriented mission. (Jared please correct me on those assumptions if I’ve got it wrong)

  146. ( note for blake ostler… you are a highly respected theologian who scares the intellectual crap out of me. Should you bother with any of part of the bland objection to mormonism that I’ve said above, please be gentle with me)

    Hi, whitney. I think your objection is reasonable. For me personally to understand the very nature of God — well is so very important… and the LDS’s views of ‘who’ God is , as you know is very unique.

    When I read the Bible in it’s entirety for the first time years back I was struck by the fact that God has always been God. He was not a man at one time, but the Bible states He has always been God and before Him was none other and after Him is no other. ( Isaiah 48) Wow. There is so much security in knowing that. God really became huge and amazing and awesome to me at that time. Before I viewed Him as a resurrected being who had once been a man. The fear and reverence I gained as a result what the Bible had to say about ‘who’ God is has been so powerful.

    As for being afraid of blake. Don’t worry. 🙂 You’ll be fine. I have faced blake before, ( Hi, blake!) and survived. You will too.

    God bless,
    gloria

  147. Tim: EXCELLENT post, dude

    Give it Mormonism 400 years and the Nicene Creed won’t look quite as distasteful.

    and it might not even take that long; and though I’m probably not qualified to have an opinion, yes, I’ve also seen similarities , and a penchant for referencing, the liberal theologians past and present. I think the more conservative moralism will fall off, and gradually a more lenient praxis will come into agreement with this more liberal theology. As a man thinketh…..

    GERMIT

  148. Tim said: “I’d like to say that Jared is a new breed of Mormon Deist. I’m guessing he wouldn’t go on a mission if he were 19 again. If he did, he’d want it to be a purely service oriented mission. (Jared please correct me on those assumptions if I’ve got it wrong)”

    That’s and interesting question. . . hard to answer really. I probably would rather serve a purely service oriented mission, and I definitely think that there should be some of those out there. I think in some areas they would be more effective at attracting converts than pure proselytizing. I know that I would prefer a pure service mission now. I don’t know if I could have the faith to serve in the more dismal mission outposts (Finland being one of them, impossible language, nobody who is at all interested, terrible weather, and people who are very reserved), but I think I could manage a mission somewhere else. As a missionary, you are basically free to teach how you want, and I was able to hone and teach my brand of Mormonism freely, which I appreciated. (nobody has listened so intently to my religious views since then 🙂 )

    I would definitely agree that I am some other “breed” of Mormon than most Mormons, but there are all kinds of heretics. Most Mormons would definitely consider me a heretic and a non-believer or agnostic on many issues, and I would have to agree with them. But I don’t expect many within the Church to follow in my footsteps. I definitely don’t think I have any new cool thing to share with Mormonism and I don’t feel any impetus to reform the church. (which probably betrays a great degree of separation)

    However, I do know there is some sort of trend within the church for those of us wandering in the “mists of darkness” to also feel more at home participating in and identifying with the church, if only on the internet.

  149. Gloria said:

    When I read the Bible in it’s entirety for the first time years back I was struck by the fact that God has always been God. He was not a man at one time, but the Bible states He has always been God and before Him was none other and after Him is no other. ( Isaiah 48) Wow. There is so much security in knowing that. God really became huge and amazing and awesome to me at that time. Before I viewed Him as a resurrected being who had once been a man. The fear and reverence I gained as a result what the Bible had to say about ‘who’ God is has been so powerful.

    But the book of Isaiah is part of LDS scriptures, is it not? I honestly don’t understand why its teachings should come across as such a new revelation. (And I think you mean Isaiah 43, not 48.)

    To be honest about it, I don’t know how God came to be God (and neither do evangelicals). I guess I’m agnostic on that matter. But the scriptures — both those we share with other Christians and those unique to Mormons — say nothing about God progressing from mortality to immortality. On the other hand, the scriptures are unequivocal that God has been God since the beginning (whatever that is). As long as that’s true (and it is possible that we could get new scripture to clarify what that means), I’m free to explore what we do know, what Joseph Smith said, what President Monson says, even what Protestant theologians say, what Blake says, whatever makes sense. I see no reason to reject the words of Isaiah; in fact, I believe he was a prophet and accept them at face value.

  150. “When I read the Bible in it’s entirety for the first time years back I was struck by the fact that God has always been God.”

    When I read the Bible for the first time I was struck by the fact that God was mistaken for a man in Genesis, spoke to people face-to-face, and generally acted like an Exalted Man in the sky. . . as implausible as that may seem to be.

  151. Yes it is interesting try reading the Bible as if you have no preconceptions. When I’ve read the Old Testament in that way, I’ve been struck by how polytheistic (or maybe henotheistic is a better word) it seemed.

  152. I don’t know how God came to be God (and neither do evangelicals).

    Sure we do.

    He never became God. He has always self-existed as God. The question is a category fallacy for orthodox Christians.

    We don’t know this based on experience, but we do know it based on the authority of scripture and reason.

  153. Hi, Eric. Thanks for the correction on the reference to Isaiah. There are several chapters that touch on this, and upon going back and re-reading I was referring actually to various beautiful passages from Isaiah.

    ” For I am God, and there is none else: I am God, and there is none like me” Isaiah 46:9

    Then Isaiah 45:4

    ” I am the Lord, and there is none else ,there is *no* other God beside me. ”

    ” There is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.” verse 6

    And the beautiful passage from Isaiah 43, that you were referring to:

    ” …. that ye may known and believe and understand that I am HE, before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” Isaiah 43:10

    You asked “why” these verses should be so new to me?

    Well, to be honest Eric, they swept me off my feet and knocked me out. Why? Because when I was LDS I most certainly was taught that Heavenly Father was the god of this planet, but that there were other gods and that he had progressed to becoming ” God” and that he was once a man, etc. So when a person who has been taugh that for years reads what the Bible has to say about the nature of God, that He always has been & that there is no other God formed. When I read the Bible and is says God is a Spirit, John 4:24, well that kind of contradicts what J.Smith taught.

    When I realized thru reading God’s word that the teachings regarding “who” God is contradicted what Joseph smith taught well I knew both couldn’t be right.

    I began to read the bible at length, study and pray harder than ever in my life. I most certainly wanted to be right with God. If I was wrong, I wanted Him to show me, and He did.

    The answer God gave me: The Bible is correct. God has always been, and there will be no GOD after him and there have never been any gods before Him.

    The Holy Spirit opened my eyes, the scales were removed and I could see clearly and hear cleary the truth regarding “who” God is.

    That was life changing for me, Eric.

    Thanks for reading,

    Gloria

  154. Whitney: I am really sheepish about the fact that I scare you — although I think that having the crap scared out is a good thing because it is so good not to be full of crap. I can understand why, at face value as Evs (mis)construe it, the Mormon view of God is a challenge. For me, it is the best thing about Mormonism. However, I think it takes a bit of discussion to see why. I think that the God worshiped by Evs is warmed over Platonism and leads to a subpersonal being that is less than worthy of worship. But we could discuss that at length — as I do in the first volume of Exploring Mormon Thought.

    Gloria: The problem is that you cite Isa. 45-46 as if they really adopted the kind of monotheism you promote. They don’t. They adopt a kind of monarchical monotheism where God Yahweh is the highest among the gods — his sons or bene elohim. Similar statements are made about Babylon being the only city — yet it is really merely a comparative claim. I would strongly recommend that you spend time reading my third volume, Of God and Gods, or you might want to check here: http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2009/04/wait-thats-in-the-bible-israelite-polytheism-or-monotheism/

    The problem I have with your approach to scripture is that it is a-contextual or taken completely out of context. You read the text as if Isaiah was a modern evangelical preacher; but he wasn’t. Check out the links. Scholars of the OT who are familiar with what the phrasing means in the context of the ancient Near East read statements in Isaiah 45-46 in the context of the belief in gods of other nation-states as real beings, a belief in the council of gods who were El’s real sons and so forth. It is difficult to interact with you because your approach to scripture is fundamentalist in the sense that it is pre-critical and appears to be totally unaware of critical scholarship and the near eastern background of the text.

    And for the record — I have been a Mormon for more than 40 years and I consider myself somewhat familiar with what Mormons teach and what they have taught. I have never heard in Church, any class or read in any book published by the Church that God (the Father or Son) is only the God of this alone. Never!

    I don’t know what Church you were attending, but it wasn’t the same one I attend. Further, while I have run into Mormon who believe that there was a time before the Father became fully divine (just as many traditional Christians believed that Christ was not fully divine while he was mortal), I do not believe or teach that. I believe that Joseph Smith consistently taught that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one eternal God without beginning and without end. The Father has always been divine as has the Son. However, each became mortal for a time.

  155. I loved your statement about me thinking Isaiah is a modern day evangelical preacher — hey, now that is something cool to think about. He would totally rock today. I believe he would top anything billy Graham would have to say. Isaiah is one of my favorites of all the prophets. He writes so beautifully, especially the passages about the Messiah.

    I take the Bible to be literal, Blake. I know not all Christians read the Bible that way but I do. If God says He created the world in 6 days and took 1 day to rest, then I believe it so. Call me simplistic in my faith, call me whatever, but that is what I believe.

    Isaiah was not the only biblical author to say that there is only ONE God and none other. That is stated all over the Bible. That is a resounding message of the Bible — that there is but ONE TRUE and everlasting God and there is none other.

    There are many churches, religions and beliefs out there that differ from that , but it is what the Bible says and teaches and I stand with the word of God, today tomorrow and forever.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  156. Blake,
    I personally don’t know any christians who believe christ “became” divine when He took upon himself flesh and dwelt among us. Every Christian I hang with believes Jesus always was God and is God. John 1:1

    I claim to be no scholar or intellectual ( thank God!) , so I can not speak for all the Doctors of Divinity out there, but for the normal every day rank and file christians I hang out with, not one believe Jesus “became” divine after becoming flesh.

    I am so glad the good news is so simple to understand. Jesus was and is God, came down and dwelt among us and became flesh, was crucified to pay the price for our sins, died, and was burried, and on the 3rd day rose and lives. He has paid the price for all who believe in Him to enter into the Kingdom of God and live eternally forever in God’s presense.

    The message is so simple, why do men complicate it?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  157. Gloria: “I personally don’t know any christians who believe christ “became” divine when He took upon himself flesh and dwelt among us. Every Christian I hang with believes Jesus always was God and is God. John 1:1”

    Do you believe that Jesus was simply an omniscient and all-powerful being while he was in the flesh as a mortal child?

    Do you believe that he is just the same being as God the Father as a mortal?

  158. ” Do you believe that Jesus was simply an omniscient and all powerful being while he was in the flesh as a mortal child?”

    What do you think, Blake?

    Did Jesus “become” God or was He God already when He was in Mary’s womb?

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  159. (Woah. Blake referred someone to one of my posts (after referring to his more comprehensive book chapters, however)! 🙂 BTW Blake, I am in the Orem-Provo area right now–and I actually just visited my friend in Sandy the other day–so perhaps we could get together in the next few weeks if you are available.)

    I agree with Blake that it simply isn’t a historically sustainable position to argue that “the Bible” teaches metaphysical or ontological monotheism (as though the Bible is univocal on its views of God anyway). I have several other short posts pertaining to the Bible and Monotheism which can be found here, here, here, here, here and here)

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  160. Per my viewing of Dogma, Jesus did not actually know he was divine until shortly before he began his ministry.

    So Kevin Smith at least would question Jesus’ omniscience up to that point.

  161. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the traditional Mormon notion that God the Father grew into the position the same way that we are supposed to.

    I know the notion drives Blake nuts, but I’m still not convinced that isn’t exactly what Joseph was implying in his King Follett Sermon. When Joseph says he’s going to “refute” the idea that God was always God… well… kinda tricky statement, isn’t it?

    Blake, you do a fine job of showing how perichoresis works in uniting Son and Spirit with the Father. Why wouldn’t it work just as well for uniting him with a pre-existent “God” as well? Why wouldn’t it work the same way for us – by extension?

  162. “I know the notion drives Blake nuts, but I’m still not convinced that isn’t exactly what Joseph was implying in his King Follett Sermon.”

    I tend to agree, with Seth,

    Joseph didn’t care at all about how his new ideas would appear vis-a-vis orthodoxy, or even explaining it in any coherent way. (he was solidly against the “orthodox”)

    As I see it, considering most of what Joseph spoke of in King Follet Discourse falls well beyond possible earthly experience its a bit artificial to try to make too much “sense” out of it.

  163. Seth: “I know the notion drives Blake nuts,”

    Not really. I just don’t believe that Joseph taught it. I have given what I consider to be a compelling exegesis of the KFD and Sermon in the Grove at odds with the reading that the Father was not fully divine before he experienced mortality in Joseph’s thought. That is what you have to deal with. I give that analysis in the last chapter of vol. 2 and the first chapter of vol. 3 of Exploring Mormon Thought. Have you reviewed that? I’m not saying that you should have, I’m just asking. Until the arguments and exegesis that I give there are dealt with, I think that the assumptions that have controlled the reading of the text are not just questionable, but rather clearly mistaken.

    On my view, when Joseph says that he will refute the idea that God has always been God, all that he is saying is that he will challenge the view that the Father did not at one time become mortal. He doesn’t argue that the Father wasn’t fully divine before becoming mortal. Joseph says that the Son does only what he saw the Father do, but the Son was fully divine before becoming mortal. It follows that the Father was also.

    Gloria: I adopt a view of Christology known as kenosis where Christ emptied himself of the fullness of divinity when he became mortal. He was neither omniscient nor omnipotent as a mortal. He had to rely entirely on the Father to restore to him the glory that he enjoyed before the world.

    But I asked what you think. You didn’t answer. Maybe you don’t have an answer and it is something you’re still thinking over. If that is the case, that is fine. Most people haven’t really addressed these issues. However, in dealing with the Mormon view of God such issues are very important to think through because Christ is the revelation of what God the Father is. He is the perfect image of the Father. IF the Son became mortal, so could the Father.

    The real problem with Ev thought, in my view, is that the assertion that Jesus of Nazareth was truly a revelation of what God is cannot be reconciled with its view of what God is. God couldn’t be anything like a mortal on the Ev view. That is where the rubber really hits the road. The Ev view makes no sense in light of the commitment that Jesus was truly both God and also truly human at one and the same time.

    Jared: And that goes for you too! (quoting George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life).

  164. Gloria: “Isaiah was not the only biblical author to say that there is only ONE God and none other. That is stated all over the Bible. That is a resounding message of the Bible — that there is but ONE TRUE and everlasting God and there is none other.”

    Yeah, it does state it several times in several books written thousands of years apart having very different views of what it means to state that God is one. In the Old Testament, it generally means that Yahweh is superlative among the gods, or that there is only one Yahweh instead of many yahwehs. It never means that there aren’t other gods who are sons of El or Elyon or Elohim in the Old Testament.

    In the New Testament book, such a statement means that God the Father is the one God who Jesus worshiped and to whom he gave all glory. However, it is clear that the writers of the New Testament did not believe that Christ was identical to the Father. They did not believe that Jesus was identical to the one God. That means that there are at least two persons, each of whom are divine. In this sense, there are at least two Gods since each of them is God and each is not identical to the other.

    Those who assert that the Trinity is somehow prefigured in the OT just read it anachronistically and commit violence to the text. They refuse to let the text mean what it says but insist that it must mean what they already believe. That is how it seems to me that you read the text. Now I believe that we all have a tendency to read text in a way that we bring assumptions to the text. However, it is important to be conscious of this tendency and do the best we can to avoid simply insisting that the text teaches what we already believe it must teach.

  165. As I see it, considering most of what Joseph spoke of in King Follet Discourse falls well beyond possible earthly experience its a bit artificial to try to make too much “sense” out of it.

    But if I try to say the same thing about the inner workings of the Trinity I get raked over the coals.

    Interesting that Blake’s approach to the KFD is similar (in approach) to the way the doctrine of the Trinity was developed.

  166. But if I try to say the same thing about the inner workings of the Trinity I get raked over the coals.

    LOL: begging the question of “doneness” …how do we know when our TIM-chop is done ?? and what kind of wine is the best compliment to this gamey dish ??

  167. “But if I try to say the same thing about the inner workings of the Trinity I get raked over the coals.”

    I think that as a practical matter, the LDS view is essentially as nonsensical as the trinity, we can’t really know the “real” difference between social Trinitarianism vs. Trinity vs. three separate Gods.

    The differences are developed within the artifice of theological/philosophical language that doesn’t have much grounding in anything we can experience or truly describe.

    This is why its hard for me to see why the debate matters much at all. It seems that any real focus on it misses the mark, a hobby and a sideshow.

    I can see why no Gospel writer ever took the time to really explain it well.

  168. I don’t know how God came to be God (and neither do evangelicals).

    Sure we do.

    He never became God. He has always self-existed as God. The question is a category fallacy for orthodox Christians.

    We don’t know this based on experience, but we do know it based on the authority of scripture and reason.

    Actually, I’m inclined to agree with you and with your conclusion that God, to use your words, “always self-existed.”

    But I don’t think that reason is infallible (and I’m not saying you make that claim). So I’m open to the possibility that there was something “before the beginning” or “outside of time” or whatever. But I’d agree at the least that the intuitive understanding of scripture — both of the Bible and the specifically LDS writings — is that God has always existed as God, that there never was a time when God wasn’t God.

    But in LDS thought, you need to account in some way for the fact that God (referring here to our Heavenly Father) has a body. That’s what makes Blake’s work (which I’ve read here and there but haven’t studied) interesting; on its surface, at least, it provides a way of reconciling the intuitive understanding of scripture with some additional information that at first seems contradictory.

    Tim also said:

    Interesting that Blake’s approach to the KFD is similar (in approach) to the way the doctrine of the Trinity was developed.

    You’re right.

    I do think, however, that there is more than one way that the paradox of God-is-one and God-is-three can be reconciled, that there are different ways of reasoning that out. Orthodoxy just happened to settle on one that is wrong.

  169. Something that I don’t think is official Mormon doctrine, but that made logical sense to me was that God the Father, having come down and been mortal too, was the Jesus of his time. So, when Jesus “grows up”, he’ll be the God the Father, and his son will be the Christ of the next generation of worlds.

    And then, because I believe it IS Mormon doctrine that there are other planets with life forms, but they don’t get their own Christ; Jesus did the work for all the worlds, my gospel according to Katy was that some of those worlds might have been worlds of God the Father’s earth-siblings who obtained celestial glory and got to make worlds.

    So, because that might not make sense, assuming Mormonism is true, and we all die, when Seth and Jared and Katie go to their celestial glory and get to create worlds (Katie, can you make your ocean be pink, just for me?), they won’t have their own Jesus, but Jesus’s firstborn will be the Savior for everyone’s worlds.

    Just a thought, but it makes sense to me.

  170. Katyjane, I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up in hell…but if by some miracle I slip through the cracks, I’d be happy to make a pink ocean just for you. 😉

  171. Tim: “Interesting that Blake’s approach to the KFD is similar (in approach) to the way the doctrine of the Trinity was developed.”

    How so? One thing is sure, a group of philosophers didn’t get together to vote on what I came up with to make it doctrine. How do you see my approach being similar to the way the doctrine of the Trinity was developed in pre? or post? Nicene thought?

  172. Blake: ” But I ask you what you think. You didn’t answer. Maybe you don’t have an answer and it is something you’re still thinking over. If that is the case, that is fine. Most people haven’t really addressed these issues.”

    Blake,

    I appreciate you taking time to share with me you views on Christ. You asked me what my views are on Christ’s divinity, whether He has always been divine, ( all knowing, all powerful, etc) or if He “grew” into that.

    I wanted to hear your views on it, and I am happy to share my thoughts.

    When I read John 1:1 it clearly states that in the beginning, was the WORD ( Jesus) and the Word was with God and IS God. That’s pretty simply to understand. Jesus was God and was with God. It also says in John 1:16, that The Word dwelt among us and became flesh.
    That is Jesus, who Is GOD left His throne and subjected Himself to having a human body and living on this earth with us. With that said, Jesus retained His status as God even though He dwelt among us.

    This is what I believe, after reading what the Bible says, and I recognize not everyone will agree with what I believe. I believe Jesus has always been God, and as such when He was even in the womb of Mary, He was most definately God. I do not believe Jesus was a normal child, in the sense you and I were. He was God, even as a babe, even as toddler, a youth, etc. I can only imagine what it would have been like for Mary to have parented the Messiah!! The scriptures clearly point to the fact that Jesus IS GOD and always has been. Did becoming flesh change that? No, I don’t believe so.

    Now, I know that some may disagree, and that’s ok.
    That is what I believe according to my reading of the Bible.
    To me to say that Jesus some how became divine, is to disavow His status as God. It’s doesn’t make sense to me. He was all knowing, all powerful before He dwelt among us and then somehow lost that and then gained it again? I just don’t think that jives with scripture and honestly makes no sense to me.

    You asked what I believe, and that in a nutshell is the answer.

    Thanks for giving me the chance to share and exchange.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  173. “When I read John 1:1 it clearly states that in the beginning, was the WORD ( Jesus) and the Word was with God and IS God.”

    If I was trying to pick out a passage in the Bible whose meaning is clear, John 1:1 wouldn’t be it.

  174. Tim: “Interesting that Blake’s approach to the KFD is similar (in approach) to the way the doctrine of the Trinity was developed.”

    Blake: “How so. . .?”

    I think its similar in that:

    (1) you are looking at a text that is not entirely clear,
    (2) you are then analyzing it using philosophical reasoning to come up with what you believe to be a more precise and clear formulation of what the text is trying to say and
    (3) then you attempt justify it with references to other scripture and statements by Joseph.

    I think this is essentially how the Trinity was formulated.

    Why/How it became “THE” doctrine is another story.

  175. Gloria,

    It is true that “John” refers to Jesus (here as logos) as G/god in 1.1. However, it is also important to recognize the distinctions that John draws between the Father and Jesus. For instance, John, significantly, refers only to God the Father as “the only true God” (17.3), and states that the Father is “greater” than the Son (14.28). Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus is still subordinated to the God, the Father, Jesus’ own “Father” and “God” (20.17). As renowned Catholic scholar Raymond Brown has summarized the issue(s) :

    “The prologue’s “the Word was God” offers a difficulty because there is no article before theos. Does this imply that “God” means less when predicated of the Word than it does when used as a name for the Father? Once again, the reader must divest himself of a post-Nicene understanding of the vocabulary involved…It is Jesus Christ who says in John xiv 28, “The Father is greater than I,” and who in xvii 3 speaks of the Father as “the only true God”.”

    Finally, I would ask what you make of Jesus’ humanity? It seems to me that Jesus’ full humanity is just as crucial to maintain as is his full divinity. How do you make sense of passages which describe Jesus as learning, growing, and generally progressing in one manner or another? For instance, Jesus is described as not knowing the time of his own coming (Matt. 24.36). And Hebrews 5.7-9 (NRSV) reads:

    7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

    Best wishes,

    TYD

  176. BTW Blake, I am in the Orem-Provo area right now–and I actually just visited my friend in Sandy the other day–so perhaps we could get together in the next few weeks if you are available.

    TYD

  177. “If I was trying to pick out a passage in the Bible whose meaning is clear, John 1:1 wouldn’t be it.”

    Hi, Seth. I am sorry that John 1:1 doesn’t appear clear to you. To me it’s just about one of the most simple passages of scripture in the NT.

    Then again, I think Joseph Smith would agree with you because he changed the entire verse.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  178. ” Finally I would ask wht you make of Jesus’ humanity?”

    Hi, Yellow Dirt —

    Thanks for responding to my post and for the chance to share and dialogue.

    I would say Jesus was fully human and fully God.

    He was fully human and subjected Himself to the life of a human so he could succor us and comfort us.

    Christ as man has fully suffered the greatest trials and so can ably comfort us.

    ” Wherfore inall things it behooved him to be made like unto His bretheren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

    For in that He himself hath suffered being tempted , He is able to succor them that are tempted.”

    Hebrews 2:17&18

    He was and is fully God. He was God as a babe, as a child, as a youth and as an adult when He taught, healed ministered and finally died for our sins.

    One of the reasons I love Jesus so much — is the fact that He left His throne, and came to dwell among us. He subjected himself to the frailities of humanity, and yet did not sin….. and He did all of this out of L O V E. Because He wants each one of us to receive the wonderful gift of eternal life through Him.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to share,

    gloria

  179. Usually when Joseph messed around with a Bible verse gloria, it was BECAUSE it wasn’t very clear.

    Just like John 1:1.

  180. ” Usually when Joseph messwed with a bible verse, gloria it was because it wasn’t very clear”

    To that I would say the following:

    “Every word of God is pure. He is shield to those that put their trust in Him. Add thou *not* unto His words lest He reprove thee and be found a liar”. Proverbs 30:5&6

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  181. Seth,

    I think you are definately not alone in thinking that passages from the Bible may be challenging to understand. I have heard that from others as well.
    That’s why I believe a person needs to really have the Holy Spirit to be able to understand what God is saying and speaking to us.

    The bible has come alive in the last few years since the Holy Spirit has been indwelling and working in my life, my heart and my mind. I can’t believe how alive it has become!
    Prior to receiving the Holy Spirit, I would have probably agreed with you.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  182. ” Aren’t mormons the ones always getting criticized for relying on the Spirit too much in reading scripture?”

    What do you define as the workings of the Holy Spirit, Seth?

    I ask because I think we may be comparing oranages to apples.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  183. Well gloria, if this is going to turn into a “your spirit is false – no yours is” kind of exchange, I doubt either of us is going to find it very useful.

    Here’s what the Holy Spirit’s workings mean to me:

    -Causes joy in the heart
    -Flashes of inspiration and clarity
    -Opening of the mind
    -Recalls other scripture and experience to mind
    -Intuitive sense of rightness

    All of those things together.

  184. Tim said:

    What I fear is a shift toward liberal Christianity rather than a shift toward conservative Christianity. It seems many Mormons like the playbook of the late 19th Century theologians when it comes to interpreting the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price (and the Bible for that matter).

    That may be true on the blogosphere, but I don’t think it’s true in the church’s power structure. That said, there is certainly more freedom in LDS thought to interpret things allegorically than there is in the more conservative wing of evangelicalism.

    Gloria said:

    I am sorry that John 1:1 doesn’t appear clear to you. To me it’s just about one of the most simple passages of scripture in the NT.

    If you were to study Greek sometime, you’d find that this verse is far from simple. You could probably fill my bookshelves with all that’s been written on just this one verse over the centuries. The wording raises a number of grammatical issues, among them being what does “and the Word was God” mean. It could mean (all these are loosely translated) “the word was a god,” “the word and God were the same being” or “the word had the qualities of God.” The NET Bible suggests it might mean “the Word was what God was” — try parsing that! I don’t see the verse as contradicting LDS theology at all.

  185. Eric & Seth,

    You both may find John 1:1 complex — simply put I don’t.

    It’s pretty clear to me.

    As for studying greek — no time. I am lucky to grab a hour or so of solid bible study. Between that and running 25 loads of laundry a week ( yes, 25!) and homeschooling 10 kiddos. .. ( that’s why I am at my computer most the day) life is pretty full. Plus I would much rather study hebrew. 🙂

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  186. I don’t think you really responded to my specific comments Gloria, although I appreciate you sharing your heart-feelings with me.

    As for Greek and Hebrew, I found Hebrew much easier. I say do both (and Aramaic while you are at it).

    And I would also point out that I am a Yellow Dart. I can only imagine what would cause me to be yellow dirt.

    Best wishes,

    The Yellow Dart (Dirt)

  187. Seth,

    I am not going to tell you that you’re spirit is wrong and mine is right – frankly that is the solely the job of the Holy Spirit – to convict men and bring them to a knowledge of truth. I simply wanted to get a glimpse of what you considered the workings of the Holy Spirit.

    For me personally the Holy Spirit performs the following functions:

    The Holy Spirit born an important role in the coming of Christ in the flesh ( Luke 1:35,John 3:34,1:32-33)

    He is the revealer of truth – the Scriptures are basically the product of the Holy Spirit. ( mic. 3:8,John 14:26,16:13,1 Cor 2:10-13)

    He is the comforter, that teaches us all things, and brings all things to our remembrance. John 15:26

    He reproves the world of sin. John 16:8

    He moves upon the hearts and consciences of men. ( Acts 2:17,John 16:7-11,1 Cor 2:4)

    He convicts men of sin, graciously aids them to repentance and faith, regenerates, comforts and sanctifies believers. Bears witness to their adoption as children of God, and dwells in them
    ( Romans 8:14-16, 1 Cor 6:19, 2 Cor. 3:17-18,

    He also guides believers in the ministrations of spiritual gifts in the Church, calling men to various offices and ministries, and equipping them and endowing them with the qualifications for the work they are called to.
    ( Acts 13:2,4; 1 Cor. 12:4-11)

    He baptizes the believer into union with other believers and into union with Christ Himself. ( Romans 6:3-4,1 Cor 12:13) The holy Spirit dwells perpetually with within every believer. ( John 14:17, Romans 8:9-14,1 Cor 6:19-20) and seals every believer for the day of redemption. ( ephesians 4:30)

    Wow!

    The holy spirit has a huge part in the life of every believer.

    That is the Holy Spirit that indwells within me and within all believers.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  188. Oops! I am sincererly sorry about that yellow dart — I really didn’t mean to do that. Please except my apologies.

    Kind regards,
    gloria

  189. “Yellow Dirt” is dangerously close to “Yellow Snow” in my mind, and I don’t think any of us want to go there.

  190. Gloria,

    I simply cannot “except” your apology. I forgive you of course, however. 🙂

    My favorite color is red, so feel free to call me Red Dirt or Red Dart if you’d like. Many moons ago I took the handle “The Yellow Dart” from here:

    http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail64.html

    Best wishes,

    TYD

    P.S. As it turns out, yellow is actually my least favorite color (can someone have a least favorite color? If so, mine is probably yellow).

  191. TYD- I liked the cartoon. I happen to be from Manhattan, Kansas as well, so I might have run into the original Yellow Dart back in the day.

  192. I think I lost it when I went on vacation because I am using my friends computer, I dunno. I liked it too 🙂 I will try and find it again though.

    TYD

  193. Red Dirt makes me think of Dirt Devil. Perhaps, TYD, you should be the Dirt Devil? Or, just go fancy and call yourself Dyson. You’d certainly make me swoon… I have two orange cats.

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